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J Biol Chem. 2001 May 11;276(19):15609-15. Epub 2001 Feb 14.

Differential activation of the Rac pathway by Ha-Ras and K-Ras.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and the Graduate Program in Physiology and Biophysics, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA.


Ras proteins are key regulators of cell growth and differentiation. Mammalian cells express three closely related Ras proteins: Ha-Ras, K-Ras, and N-Ras. We have compared the abilities of the Ha-Ras and K-Ras isoforms to activate the Rac effector pathway, using three Rac-dependent readouts: induction of membrane ruffling and pinocytosis, stimulation of cell motility, and Pak binding. The total surface area of membrane ruffles induced by K-RasV12 was 2-fold greater than that induced by Ha-RasV12. Likewise, the number of K-RasV12-induced pinocytic vesicles per cell was approximately 2-fold greater than that induced by Ha-RasV12. In a wound healing assay, K-RasV12-injected cells migrated twice as fast as Ha-RasV12-injected cells. Moreover, the Pak binding activity of Rac, which is indicative of the amount of GTP-bound Rac, was higher in K-RasV12-expressing cells than Ha-RasV12-expressing cells. These results suggest that K-Ras activates Rac more efficiently than Ha-Ras. The preferential activation of Rac by K-Ras is dependent on the mode of membrane anchoring and impacts on the ability of K-Ras to regulate cell survival.

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