The Ras protein superfamily: evolutionary tree and role of conserved amino acids

J Cell Biol. 2012 Jan 23;196(2):189-201. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201103008.


The Ras superfamily is a fascinating example of functional diversification in the context of a preserved structural framework and a prototypic GTP binding site. Thanks to the availability of complete genome sequences of species representing important evolutionary branch points, we have analyzed the composition and organization of this superfamily at a greater level than was previously possible. Phylogenetic analysis of gene families at the organism and sequence level revealed complex relationships between the evolution of this protein superfamily sequence and the acquisition of distinct cellular functions. Together with advances in computational methods and structural studies, the sequence information has helped to identify features important for the recognition of molecular partners and the functional specialization of different members of the Ras superfamily.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Alignment
  • ras Proteins / chemistry*
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • Guanosine Triphosphate
  • ras Proteins