Signaling from Ras to Rac and beyond: Not just a matter of GEFs

Giorgio Scita, Pierluigi Tenca, Emanuela Frittoli, Arianna Tocchetti, Metello Innocenti, Giuseppina Giardina, Pier Paolo Di Fiore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Members of a family of intracellular molecular switches, the small GTPases, sense modifications of the extracellular environment and transduce them into a variety of homeostatic signals. Among small GTPases, Ras and the Rho family of proteins hierarchically and/or coordinately regulate signaling pathways leading to phenotypes as important as proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis, Ras and Rho-GTPases are organized in a complex network of functional interactions, whose molecular mechanisms are being elucidated. Starting from the simple concept of linear cascades of events (GTPase→activator→ GTPase), the work of several laboratories is uncovering an increasingly complex scenario in which upstream regulators of GTPases also function as downstream effectors and influence the precise biological outcome. Furthermore, small GTPases assemble into macromolecular machineries that include upstream activators, downstream effectors, regulators and perhaps even final biochemical targets. We are starting to understand how these macromolecular complexes work and how they are regulated and targeted to their proper subcellular localization. Ultimately, the acquisition of a cogent picture of the various levels of integration and regulation in small GTPase-mediated signaling should define the physiology of early signal transduction events and the pathological implication of its subversion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2393-2398
Number of pages6
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2000


  • GEFs
  • Rac
  • Ras
  • Rho-GTPases
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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