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Cell Cycle. 2006 Aug;5(15):1607-11. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

Germline mutations in components of the Ras signaling pathway in Noonan syndrome and related disorders.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


Ras proteins control a variety of critical cellular processes, and somatic mutations in RAS genes (and other members of signaling networks regulated by Ras) are common in human malignancies. Ras proteins are guanosine triphosphate (GTP)-binding proteins that cycle between active GTP-bound and inactive guanosine diphosphate (GDP) bound conformations. Cancer-associated Ras mutations typically alter amino acids G12, G13 or Q61. These mutant Ras proteins display impaired GTPase activity and are resistant to GTPase activating proteins (GAPs). We and others recently discovered novel germline KRAS mutations in individuals diagnosed with Noonan or cardio-facio-cutanous (CFC) syndrome, two clinically overlapping disorders characterized by short stature, distinct facial anomalies, heart defects, and other developmental abnormalities. We found that the mutant K-Ras proteins encoded by NS-associated alleles have less pronounced biochemical defects than known Ras oncoproteins, which likely explains why these mutations are tolerated in the germline. Together with the recent findings of mutations in other members of the Ras signaling cascade in CFC syndrome and in Costello syndrome, another clinically related disorder, it is now clear that Noonan-like features are common phenotypic consequences of systemic deregulation of the Ras pathway. The discovery of germline mutations in this group of related genetic disorders underscores the pivotal role of the degree and duration of Ras activation in cell fate decisions during embryonic development and morphogenesis.

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