Cancer and Inflammation Program, National Cancer Institute at Frederick, Basic Science Program, Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, Frederick, MD 21702, U.S.A. Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
Are the dimer structures of active Ras isoforms similar? This question is significant since Ras can activate its effectors as a monomer; however, as a dimer, it promotes Raf's activation and MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) cell signalling. In the present study, we model possible catalytic domain dimer interfaces of membrane-anchored GTP-bound K-Ras4B and H-Ras, and compare their conformations. The active helical dimers formed by the allosteric lobe are isoform-specific: K-Ras4B-GTP favours the α3 and α4 interface; H-Ras-GTP favours α4 and α5. Both isoforms also populate a stable β-sheet dimer interface formed by the effector lobe; a less stable β-sandwich interface is sustained by salt bridges of the β-sheet side chains. Raf's high-affinity β-sheet interaction is promoted by the active helical interface. Collectively, Ras isoforms' dimer conformations are not uniform; instead, the isoform-specific dimers reflect the favoured interactions of the HVRs (hypervariable regions) with cell membrane microdomains, biasing the effector-binding site orientations, thus isoform binding selectivity.