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PLoS One. 2009 Jul 9;4(7):e6148. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006148.

Biophysical mechanism for ras-nanocluster formation and signaling in plasma membrane.

Author information

1
Centre for Integrated Systems Biology at Imperial College, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Ras GTPases are lipid-anchored G proteins, which play a fundamental role in cell signaling processes. Electron micrographs of immunogold-labeled Ras have shown that membrane-bound Ras molecules segregate into nanocluster domains. Several models have been developed in attempts to obtain quantitative descriptions of nanocluster formation, but all have relied on assumptions such as a constant, expression-level independent ratio of Ras in clusters to Ras monomers (cluster/monomer ratio). However, this assumption is inconsistent with the law of mass action. Here, we present a biophysical model of Ras clustering based on short-range attraction and long-range repulsion between Ras molecules in the membrane. To test this model, we performed Monte Carlo simulations and compared statistical clustering properties with experimental data. We find that we can recover the experimentally-observed clustering across a range of Ras expression levels, without assuming a constant cluster/monomer ratio or the existence of lipid rafts. In addition, our model makes predictions about the signaling properties of Ras nanoclusters in support of the idea that Ras nanoclusters act as an analog-digital-analog converter for high fidelity signaling.

PMID:
19587789
PMCID:
PMC2704371
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0006148
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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