NMR characterization of full-length farnesylated and non-farnesylated H-Ras and its implications for Raf activation

J Mol Biol. 2004 Nov 5;343(5):1391-408. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2004.08.106.


The C terminus, also known as the hypervariable region (residues 166-189), of H-, N-, and K-Ras proteins has sequence determinants necessary for full activation of downstream effectors such as Raf kinase and PI-3 kinase as well as for the correct targeting of Ras proteins to lipid rafts and non-raft membranes. There is considerable interest in understanding how residues in the extreme C terminus of the different Ras proteins and farnesylation of the CaaX box cysteine affect Ras membrane localization and allosteric activation of Raf kinase. To provide insights into the structural and dynamic changes that occur in Ras upon farnesylation, we have used NMR spectroscopy to compare the properties of truncated H-Ras (1-166), to non-processed full-length H-Ras (residues 1-185) and full-length (1-189) farnesylated H-Ras. We report that the C-terminal helix alpha-5 extends to residue N172, and the remaining 17 amino acid residues in the C terminus are conformationally averaged in solution. Removal of either 23 or 18 amino acid residues from the C terminus of full length H-Ras generates truncated H-Ras (1-166) and H-Ras (1-171) proteins, respectively, that have been structurally characterized and are biochemical active. Here we report that C-terminal truncation of H-Ras results in minor structural and dynamic perturbations that are propagated throughout the H-Ras protein including increased flexibility of the central beta-sheet and the C-terminal helix alpha-5. Ordering of residues in loop-2, which is involved in Raf CRD binding is also observed. Farnesylation of full-length H-Ras at C186 does not result in detectable conformational changes in H-Ras. Chemical shift mapping studies of farnesylated and non-farnesylated forms of H-Ras with the Raf-CRD show that the farnesyl moiety, the extreme H-Ras C terminus and residues 23-30, contribute to H-Ras:Raf-CRD interactions, thereby increasing the affinity of H-Ras for the Raf-CRD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Epitopes
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Protein Prenylation / physiology*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • raf Kinases / immunology
  • raf Kinases / metabolism*
  • ras Proteins / chemistry*
  • ras Proteins / immunology
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • Epitopes
  • raf Kinases
  • ras Proteins