Ran is a small ras-related GTPase that controls the nucleocytoplasmic exchange of macromolecules across the nuclear envelope. It binds to chromatin early during nuclear formation and has important roles during the eukaryotic cell cycle, where it regulates mitotic spindle assembly, nuclear envelope formation and cell cycle checkpoint control. Like other GTPases, Ran relies on the cycling between GTP-bound and GDP-bound conformations to interact with effector proteins and regulate these processes. In nucleocytoplasmic transport, Ran shuttles across the nuclear envelope through nuclear pores. It is concentrated in the nucleus by an active import mechanism where it generates a high concentration of RanGTP by nucleotide exchange. It controls the assembly and disassembly of a range of complexes that are formed between Ran-binding proteins and cellular cargo to maintain rapid nuclear transport. Ran also has been identified as an essential protein in nuclear envelope formation in eukaryotes. This mechanism is dependent on importin-β, which regulates the assembly of further complexes important in this process, such as Nup107-Nup160. A strong body of evidence is emerging implicating Ran as a key protein in the metastatic progression of cancer. Ran is overexpressed in a range of tumors, such as breast and renal, and these perturbed levels are associated with local invasion, metastasis and reduced patient survival. Furthermore, tumors with oncogenic KRAS or PIK3CA mutations are addicted to Ran expression, which yields exciting future therapeutic opportunities.
- Ran GTPase Nucleocytoplasmic transport Mitotic spindle Nuclear envelope RCC1 RanBP1 CRM1 TPX2 Importin-β Cell cycle checkpoint control Osteopontin Metastasis