Rab Family of GTPases

  • Guangpu LiEmail author
  • M. Caleb Marlin
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1298)


Rab proteins represent the largest branch of the Ras-like small GTPase superfamily and there are 66 Rab genes in the human genome. They alternate between GTP- and GDP-bound states, which are facilitated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) and GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs), and function as molecular switches in regulation of intracellular membrane trafficking in all eukaryotic cells. Each Rab targets to an organelle and specify a transport step along exocytic, endocytic, and recycling pathways as well as the crosstalk between these pathways. Through interactions with multiple effectors temporally, a Rab can control membrane budding and formation of transport vesicles, vesicle movement along cytoskeleton, and membrane fusion at the target compartment. The large number of Rab proteins reflects the complexity of the intracellular transport system, which is essential for the localization and function of membrane and secretory proteins such as hormones, growth factors, and their membrane receptors. As such, Rab proteins have emerged as important regulators for signal transduction, cell growth, and differentiation. Altered Rab expression and/or activity have been implicated in diseases ranging from neurological disorders, diabetes to cancer.

Key words

Rab GTPase GTP-binding protein Membrane trafficking Vesicular transport GAP GEF Effector 



The authors’ research program is supported by the NIH/NIGMS grant R01 GM074692 (to G.L.).


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA

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