, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 101-113

The Ras Signaling Pathway in Mammary Tumorigenesis and Metastasis

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Abstract

The Ras superfamily of GTPases act as important regulatory switches to co-ordinate extracellular stimuli with activation of intracellular signaling pathways and appropriate biological responses. The Ras branch of this superfamily includes H-, K- and N-Ras, which are commonly mutated in particular human cancers, but notably not in those of the breast. Instead, in breast cancer the signaling pathways involving these GTPases may be upregulated due to increased coupling to growth factor receptors or other tyrosine kinases commonly overexpressed in this disease, or increased expression of regulators, the Ras protein itself, or downstream effectors. Functional studies utilizing both in vitro and in vivo models demonstrate that Ras signaling can regulate a variety of endpoints relevant to breast cancer progression, including anchorage dependent and independent growth, tumorigenesis, steroid sensitivity and invasion. Finally, analysis of the processing and signaling mechanisms of the Ras superfamily has identified potential targets for therapeutic intervention.