Identification of the nucleotide-free state as a therapeutic vulnerability for inhibition of selected oncogenic RAS mutants

Cell Rep. 2022 Feb 8;38(6):110322. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.110322.


RAS guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) are mutated in nearly 20% of human tumors, making them an attractive therapeutic target. Following our discovery that nucleotide-free RAS (apo RAS) regulates cell signaling, we selectively target this state as an approach to inhibit RAS function. Here, we describe the R15 monobody that exclusively binds the apo state of all three RAS isoforms in vitro, regardless of the mutation status, and captures RAS in the apo state in cells. R15 inhibits the signaling and transforming activity of a subset of RAS mutants with elevated intrinsic nucleotide exchange rates (i.e., fast exchange mutants). Intracellular expression of R15 reduces the tumor-forming capacity of cancer cell lines driven by select RAS mutants and KRAS(G12D)-mutant patient-derived xenografts (PDXs). Thus, our approach establishes an opportunity to selectively inhibit a subset of RAS mutants by targeting the apo state with drug-like molecules.

Keywords: PDX; anti-RAS biologics; apo-RAS; colon cancer; lung cancer; monobody; multiplex imaging; pancreatic cancer; protein engineering; tumorigenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Genes, ras / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Nucleotides / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Nucleotides