The dark side of Ras: regulation of apoptosis

Oncogene. 2003 Dec 8;22(56):8999-9006. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207111.


Mutational activation of Ras promotes oncogenesis by disrupting a multitude of normal cellular processes. Perhaps, best characterized and understood are the mechanisms by which oncogenic Ras promotes deregulated cell cycle progression and uncontrolled cellular proliferation. However, it is now clear that oncogenic Ras can also deregulate processes that control apoptosis. In light of the diversity of downstream effector targets known to facilitate Ras function, it is perhaps not surprising that Ras regulation of cell survival is complex, involving the balance and interplay of multiple signaling networks. While our understanding of these events is still far from complete, and is complicated by cell type and signaling context differences, several important mechanisms have begun to emerge. We review the role and mechanism of specific effectors in regulating the antiapoptotic (Raf, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and Tiam1) and apoptotic (Nore1 and RASSF1) actions of oncogenic Ras, and discuss the possibility that the effector actions of p120RasGAP make a significant contribution to Ras regulation of apoptotic events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Genes, ras*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • NF-kappa B
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases