RAS family proteins are important signaling molecules that regulate cell growth, survival and differentiation by coupling receptor
activation to downstream effector pathways. Three distinct genes encode for the three different proteins H-, K-, and N- RAS.
These proteins share high sequence homology, particularly at the N-Terminal domain. Among them, K-RAS is one of the most frequently
mutated in human cancer. The majority of the mutations present in K-RAS are at codon 12 (from 80 to 100%) followed by codon 13 and
61. In all cases, aminoacid change leads to a constitutively activated protein.
K-RAS mutations have a role in tumor development as well as in tumor progression and resistance. Despite the various studies which
have been published, the prognostic and predictive role of K-RAS mutations is still under debate. Keeping in mind that the glycine present
at position 12 can be substituted by valine, aspartic acid or cysteine, it could be well understood that each different substitution plays
a different role in K-RAS-dependent processes.
The present article focuses on the molecular and biological characteristics of K-RAS protein, its role in NSCLC tumor development and
progression. We also present an overview of the preclinical models both in vitro and in vivo available to determine the role of K-RAS in
tumor progression and response to treatment and on the recent results obtained in this field. Finally, we have considered the impact of KRAS
mutations in clinical practice, analyzing the different recent trials that have taken into consideration K-RAS.