Small G proteins are an extensive family of proteins that bind and hydrolyze GTP. They are ubiquitous inside cells, regulating a wide range of cellular processes. Recently, many studies have examined the role of small G proteins, particularly the Ras family of G proteins, in memory formation. Once thought to be primarily involved in the transduction of a variety of extracellular signals during development, it is now clear that Ras family proteins also play critical roles in molecular processing underlying neuronal and behavioral plasticity. We here review a number of recent studies that explore how the signaling of Ras family proteins contributes to memory formation. Understanding these signaling processes is of fundamental importance both from a basic scientific perspective, with the goal of providing mechanistic insights into a critical aspect of cognitive behavior, and from a clinical perspective, with the goal of providing effective therapies for a range of disorders involving cognitive impairments.
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