PloS one

Activation of Ras requires the ERM-dependent link of actin to the plasma membrane.

PMID 22132106


Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) participate in a multitude of signaling pathways, some of them via the small G-protein Ras. An important component in the activation of Ras is Son of sevenless (SOS), which catalyzes the nucleotide exchange on Ras. We can now demonstrate that the activation of Ras requires, in addition, the essential participation of ezrin, radixin and/or moesin (ERM), a family of actin-binding proteins, and of actin. Disrupting either the interaction of the ERM proteins with co-receptors, down-regulation of ERM proteins by siRNA, expression of dominant-negative mutants of the ERM proteins or disruption of F-actin, abolishes growth factor-induced Ras activation. Ezrin/actin catalyzes the formation of a multiprotein complex consisting of RTK, co-receptor, Grb2, SOS and Ras. We also identify binding sites for both Ras and SOS on ezrin; mutations of these binding sites destroy the interactions and inhibit Ras activation. Finally, we show that the formation of the ezrin-dependent complex is necessary to enhance the catalytic activity of SOS and thereby Ras activation. Taking these findings together, we propose that the ERM proteins are novel scaffolds at the level of SOS activity control, which is relevant for both normal Ras function and dysfunction known to occur in several human cancers.