SmgGDS: An Emerging Master Regulator of Prenylation and Trafficking by Small GTPases in the Ras and Rho Families

Front Mol Biosci. 2021 Jun 16:8:685135. doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2021.685135. eCollection 2021.


Newly synthesized small GTPases in the Ras and Rho families are prenylated by cytosolic prenyltransferases and then escorted by chaperones to membranes, the nucleus, and other sites where the GTPases participate in a variety of signaling cascades. Understanding how prenylation and trafficking are regulated will help define new therapeutic strategies for cancer and other disorders involving abnormal signaling by these small GTPases. A growing body of evidence indicates that splice variants of SmgGDS (gene name RAP1GDS1) are major regulators of the prenylation, post-prenylation processing, and trafficking of Ras and Rho family members. SmgGDS-607 binds pre-prenylated small GTPases, while SmgGDS-558 binds prenylated small GTPases. This review discusses the history of SmgGDS research and explains our current understanding of how SmgGDS splice variants regulate the prenylation and trafficking of small GTPases. We discuss recent evidence that mutant forms of RabL3 and Rab22a control the release of small GTPases from SmgGDS, and review the inhibitory actions of DiRas1, which competitively blocks the binding of other small GTPases to SmgGDS. We conclude with a discussion of current strategies for therapeutic targeting of SmgGDS in cancer involving splice-switching oligonucleotides and peptide inhibitors.

Keywords: GDF; GEF; Rap1GDS1; SmgGDS; lipidation; prenylation; splicing; trafficking.

Publication types

  • Review