Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Major Professor

Saïd M. Sebti, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Larry P. Solomonson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gloria C. Ferreira, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Srikumar Chellapan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gary Reuther, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Douglas Cress, Ph.D.


Ras, RACK1, Geranylgeranyltransferase I inhibitors, ovarian cancer, proteomics


Ras genes are frequently mutated in human cancers and present compelling targets for therapeutic intervention. While previous attempts to directly inhibit oncogenic Ras function have largely been unsuccessful use of targeted agents to inhibit the three primary oncogenic pathways activated by mutated Ras: RalGEF-Ral, PI3K-Akt and Raf- MEK-Erk, is an area of intense investigation. Here, we describe the ability of a novel pharmacological inhibitor of geranylgeranyltransferase I, GGTI-2417, to inhibit Ral prenylation and localization. We further used a Ral rescue system to selectively preserve RalA and RalB function and localization during GGTI-2417 treatment and determine the precise roles for inhibition of Ral prenylation in the GGTI anti-cancer response.

Specifically, we determined inhibition of RalA is required for GGTI-attenuation of anchorage independent growth whereas inhibition of RalB is required for inhibition of proliferation, induction of apoptosis, suppression of survivin and induction of p27Kip1. We next determined the role of RalGEF-Ral signaling as well as PI3K-Akt and Raf-MEKErk signal transduction pathways in an in vitro model of human ovarian surface epithelial (T80 HOSE) cell Ras-dependent transformation. Using both small interfering RNA (siRNA) and pharmacological inhibitors of Ral, PI3K and MEK we determined that Ras signaling via Ral and PI3K but not MEK is required for ovarian oncogenesis. Furthermore, stable expression of Ras mutants unable to activate Raf-MEK-Erk signaling were able to robustly transform T80 cells.

Since we had confirmed the importance of Ral proteins to human epithelial malignancies we next sought to explore the molecular interactions governing Ral transformation using a proteomics approach to rapidly identify proposed Ral interacting partners. Using immunoprecipition of transiently overexpressed FLAG-tagged RalA and RalB followed by 1D-gel separation and tandem MS/MS analysis we determined a database of proposed Ral interacting proteins. One of these, RACK1, is a validated RalA and RalB interacting protein which is at least partially required for Ras and Ral transformation. These results provide both a strong impetus and a solid basis for future studies into the mechanisms of RalA- and RalB- dependent transformation.