RasGRPs (guanine nucleotide releasing proteins) are a family of four GEFs (guanine nucleotide-exchange factors) (Ras GEFs) that positively regulate Ras and related small GTPases. RasGRP1 possesses a catalytic region consisting of a REM (Ras exchange motif) and a CDC25 (cell division cycle 25) domain. RasGRP1 also possesses a DAG (diacylglycerol)-binding C1 domain and a pair of EF hands that bind calcium. RasGRP1 is selectively expressed in lymphocytes as well as in some cells of the brain, kidney and skin. Functional analysis supports the hypothesis that RasGRP1 serves to couple TCR (T-cell receptor) stimulation and phospholipase C activation with Ras signalling. In B-cells, both RasGRP1 and RasGRP3 play a similar role downstream of the B-cell receptor. RasGRP2 acts on the Ras-related protein Rap and functions in platelet adhesion. RasGRP4 is expressed in mast cells and certain myeloid leukaemia cells. Membrane DAG regulates RasGRPs directly by recruitment to cellular membranes, as well as indirectly by protein kinase C-mediated phosphorylation. The properties of RasGRPs provide a novel view of Ras regulation in lymphocytes and explain several earlier observations. Many experimental results obtained with DAG analogues could be reviewed in light of these findings.

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