Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

John Hancock, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joya Chandra, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carmen Dessauer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey Frost, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roger O'Neil, Ph.D.


Ras genes are mutated in 15% of human cancers. Ras GTPases operate as molecular switches regulating cellular processes including proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. The three main isoforms of Ras – H-Ras, K-Ras, and N-Ras – inhabit distinct nanodomains of the plasma membrane and intracellular compartments including the Golgi. However, the role of single endogenous Ras isoforms on these compartments remains unclear as most studies have utilized ectopically expressed and mutant forms of Ras proteins. In an effort to develop novel tools that will allow us to abrogate individual endogenous Ras isoforms, we targeted the catalytic domain of p120RasGAP to the plasma membrane with the hypervariable region (HVR) of H-Ras (GAP-CTH) or K-Ras (GAP-CTK) and to the Golgi using the HVR of H-Ras with insertion of a point mutation (GAP-CTH181S). We performed GST-RBD pull-downs on cells expressing each GAP construct and stimulated with epidermal growth factor (EGF). We found that GAP-CTH and GAP-CTK specifically inhibited H-Ras or K-Ras, respectively. However, we did not detect any effect of GAP-CTH181S on Ras activation. Additionally, we used confocal microscopy to verify the ability of GAP constructs to abrogate Ras activation in distinct sub-cellular compartments. We found that GAP-CTH inhibits H-Ras activation on the plasma membrane, while GAP-CTK inhibits K-Ras activation on the plasma membrane. On the contrary, GAP-CTH181S inhibited H-Ras activation on the Golgi. We also analyzed the effects of these GAP constructs on the activation of ERK and Akt in response to EGF stimulation. We found that EGF stimulation of the MAPK pathway was inhibited by GAP-CTK but none of the other GAP constructs, while Akt activation was not inhibited by any GAP construct. Finally, we assayed cellular proliferation and differentiation. We found that GAP-CTK and GAP-CTH were equipotent inhibitors of cellular growth, whereas GAP-CTH181S was less potent. We also found that GAP-CTK and GAP-CTH inhibited differentiation with similar potency, while GAP-CTH181S was more potent. This approach may be adapted to investigate any Ras-dependent signaling pathway. Therefore, it has the potential to become a powerful tool for studying Ras isoform-specific signaling outputs.


Ras, signal transduction, plasma membrane nanodomains, Golgi signaling, intracellular signaling



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