Interactions of Ras proteins with the plasma membrane and their roles in signaling

Cell Signal. 2008 Jan;20(1):31-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2007.07.012. Epub 2007 Aug 21.


The complex dynamic structure of the plasma membrane plays critical roles in cellular signaling; interactions with the membrane lipid milieu, spatial segregation within and between cellular membranes and/or targeting to specific membrane-associated scaffolds are intimately involved in many signal transduction pathways. In this review, we focus on the membrane interactions of Ras proteins. These small GTPases play central roles in the regulation of cell growth and proliferation, and their excessive activation is commonly encountered in human tumors. Ras proteins associate with the membrane continuously via C-terminal lipidation and additional interactions in both their inactive and active forms; this association, as well as the targeting of specific Ras isoforms to plasma membrane microdomains and to intracellular organelles, have recently been implicated in Ras signaling and oncogenic potential. We discuss biochemical and biophysical evidence for the roles of specific domains of Ras proteins in mediating their association with the plasma membrane, and consider the potential effects of lateral segregation and interactions with membrane-associated protein assemblies on the signaling outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • ras Proteins / analysis
  • ras Proteins / physiology*


  • ras Proteins