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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Aug;1773(8):1177-95. Epub 2007 Jan 28.

Ras oncogenes and their downstream targets.

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University of Würzburg, Institut für Medizinische Strahlenkunde und Zellforschung, Versbacherstr. 5, D-97078 Würzburg, Germany.


RAS proteins are small GTPases, which serve as master regulators of a myriad of signaling cascades involved in highly diverse cellular processes. RAS oncogenes have been originally discovered as retroviral oncogenes, and ever since constitutively activating RAS mutations have been identified in human tumors, they are in the focus of intense research. In this review, we summarize the biochemical properties of RAS proteins, trace down the evolution of RAS signaling and present an overview of the spatio-temporal activation of major RAS isoforms. We further discuss RAS effector pathways, their role in normal and transformed cell physiology and summarize ongoing attempts to interfere with aberrant RAS signaling. Finally, we comment on the role of micro RNAs in modulating RAS expression, contribution of RAS to stem cell function and on high-throughput analyses of RAS signaling networks.

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