Date of Graduation
Masters of Science (MS)
Ras proteins serve as crucial signaling modulators in cell proliferation through their ability to hydrolyze GTP and exist in a GTP “on” state and GTP “off” state. There are three different human Ras isoforms: H-ras, N-ras and K-ras (4A and 4B). Although their sequence identity is very high at the catalytic domain, these isoforms differ in their ability to activate different effectors and hence different signaling pathways. Much of the previous work on this topic has attributed this difference to the hyper variable region of Ras proteins, which contains most of the sequence variance among the isoforms and encodes specificity for differential distribution in the membrane. However, we hypothesize that sequence variation on lobe II of Ras catalytic domain alters dynamics and leads to differential preference for different effectors or modulators. In this work, we used all atom molecular dynamics to analyze the dynamics in the catalytic domain of H-ras and K-ras. We have also analyzed the dynamics of a transforming mutant of H-ras and K-ras and further studied the dynamics of an effectorselective mutant of H-ras. Collectively we have determined that wild type K-ras is more dynamic than H-ras and that the structure of the effector binding loop more closely resembles that of the T35S Raf-selective mutant, possibly giving us a new view and insight into the v mode of effector specificity. Furthermore we have determined that specific mutations at the same location perturb the conformational equilibrium differently in H-ras and K-ras and that an enhanced oncogenic potential may arise from different structural perturbations for each point mutation of a specific isoform.
RAS, CONFORMATION SELECTION, MOLECULAR DYNAMICS