Ras is the name given to a family of related proteins found inside cells, including human cells. All Ras protein family members belong to a class of protein called small GTPase, and are involved in transmitting signals within cells (cellular signal transduction). Ras is the prototypical member of the Ras superfamily of proteins, which are all related in 3D structure and regulate diverse cell behaviours.
The name 'Ras' is an abbreviation of 'Rat sarcoma', reflecting the way the first members of the protein family were discovered. The name ras is also used to refer to the family of genes encoding those proteins.
When Ras is 'switched on' by incoming signals, it subsequently switches on other proteins, which ultimately turn on genes involved in cell growth, differentiation and survival. As a result, mutations in ras genes can lead to the production of permanently activated Ras proteins. This can cause unintended and overactive signalling inside the cell, even in the absence of incoming signals.
Because these signals result in cell growth and division, overactive Ras signaling can ultimately lead to cancer. Ras is the most common oncogene in human cancer - mutations that permanently activate Ras are found in 20-25% of all human tumors and up to 90% in certain types of cancer (e.g. pancreatic cancer). For this reason, Ras inhibitors are being studied as a treatment for cancer, and other diseases with Ras overexpression.
Other articles related to "ras subfamily, ras":
... specifically in cells that have an activated Ras pathway (a cellular signaling pathway that is involved in cell growth and differentiation) ... Reovirus replicates in and eventually kills Ras-activated tumour cells and as cell death occurs, progeny virus particles are free to infect surrounding cancer cells ... until all tumour cells carrying an activated Ras pathway are destroyed ...