Ras proteins are binary switches that, by cycling between inactive GDP-bound and active GTP-bound conformations, regulate multiple cellular signalling pathways including those that control cell growth, differentiation and survival. Approximately 30% of all human tumours express Ras-containing oncogenic mutations that lock the protein into a constitutively active conformation. The activation status of Ras is regulated by two groups of proteins: GEFs (guanine nucleotide-exchange factors) bind to Ras and enhance the exchange of GDP for GTP, thereby activating it, whereas GAPs (GTPase-activating proteins) inactivate Ras by binding to the GTP-bound form and enhancing the hydrolysis of the bound nucleotide back to GDP. In this review, we focus on a group of key regulators of Ras inactivation, the GAP1 family of Ras-GAPs. The members of this family are GAP1m, GAP1IP4BP, CAPRI (Ca2+-promoted Ras inactivator) and RASAL (Ras-GTPase-activating-like protein) and, as we will discuss, they are emerging as important modulators of Ras and small GTPase signalling that are subject to regulation by a diverse array of events and second messenger signals.

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