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Genes Dev. 1997 Oct 1;11(19):2468-81.

K-ras is an essential gene in the mouse with partial functional overlap with N-ras.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.

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  • Genes Dev 1997 Dec 1;11(23):3277.


Mammalian ras genes are thought to be critical in the regulation of cellular proliferation and differentiation and are mutated in approximately 30% of all human tumors. However, N-ras and H-ras are nonessential for mouse development. To characterize the normal role of K-ras in growth and development, we have mutated it by gene targeting in the mouse. On an inbred genetic background, embryos homozygous for this mutation die between 12 and 14 days of gestation, with fetal liver defects and evidence of anemia. Thus, K-ras is the only member of the ras gene family essential for mouse embryogenesis. We have also investigated the effect of multiple mutations within the ras gene family. Most animals lacking N-ras function and heterozygous for the K-ras mutation exhibit abnormal hematopoietic development and die between days 10 and 12 of embryogenesis. Thus, partial functional overlap appears to occur within the ras gene family, but K-ras provides a unique and essential function.

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