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Modeling of RAS complexes supports roles in cancer for less studied partners



RAS protein interactions have predominantly been studied in the context of the RAF and PI3kinase oncogenic pathways. Structural modeling and X-ray crystallography have demonstrated that RAS isoforms bind to canonical downstream effector proteins in these pathways using the highly conserved switch I and II regions. Other non-canonical RAS protein interactions have been experimentally identified, however it is not clear whether these proteins also interact with RAS via the switch regions.


To address this question we constructed a RAS isoform-specific protein-protein interaction network and predicted 3D complexes involving RAS isoforms and interaction partners to identify the most probable interaction interfaces. The resulting models correctly captured the binding interfaces for well-studied effectors, and additionally implicated residues in the allosteric and hyper-variable regions of RAS proteins as the predominant binding site for non-canonical effectors. Several partners binding to this new interface (SRC, LGALS1, RABGEF1, CALM and RARRES3) have been implicated as important regulators of oncogenic RAS signaling. We further used these models to investigate competitive binding and multi-protein complexes compatible with RAS surface occupancy and the putative effects of somatic mutations on RAS protein interactions.


We discuss our findings in the context of RAS localization to the plasma membrane versus within the cytoplasm and provide a list of RAS protein interactions with possible cancer-related consequences, which could help guide future therapeutic strategies to target RAS proteins.

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