The high frequency of RAS mutations in human cancers (33%) has stimulated intense interest in the development of anti-Ras inhibitors for cancer therapy. Currently, the major focus of these efforts is centered on inhibitors of components involved in Ras downstream effector signaling. In particular, more than 40 inhibitors of the Raf-MEK-ERK mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade and phosphoinositide 3-kinase-AKT-mTOR effector signaling networks are currently under clinical evaluation. However, these efforts are complicated by the fact that Ras can utilize at least 9 additional functionally distinct effectors, with at least 3 additional effectors with validated roles in Ras-mediated oncogenesis. Of these, the guanine nucleotide exchange factors of the Ras-like (Ral) small GTPases (RalGEFs) have emerged as important effectors of mutant Ras in pancreatic, colon, and other cancers. In this review, we summarize the evidence for the importance of this effector pathway in cancer and discuss possible directions for therapeutic inhibition of aberrant Ral activation and signaling.
Keywords: Aurora A; RalBP1/RLIP76; exocyst complex; geranylgeranyltransferase-I inhibitor.