Ras Conformational Ensembles, Allostery, and Signaling

Chem Rev. 2016 Jun 8;116(11):6607-65. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.5b00542. Epub 2016 Jan 27.


Ras proteins are classical members of small GTPases that function as molecular switches by alternating between inactive GDP-bound and active GTP-bound states. Ras activation is regulated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors that catalyze the exchange of GDP by GTP, and inactivation is terminated by GTPase-activating proteins that accelerate the intrinsic GTP hydrolysis rate by orders of magnitude. In this review, we focus on data that have accumulated over the past few years pertaining to the conformational ensembles and the allosteric regulation of Ras proteins and their interpretation from our conformational landscape standpoint. The Ras ensemble embodies all states, including the ligand-bound conformations, the activated (or inactivated) allosteric modulated states, post-translationally modified states, mutational states, transition states, and nonfunctional states serving as a reservoir for emerging functions. The ensemble is shifted by distinct mutational events, cofactors, post-translational modifications, and different membrane compositions. A better understanding of Ras biology can contribute to therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • ras Proteins / chemistry
  • ras Proteins / metabolism*


  • Guanosine Triphosphate
  • ras Proteins