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EMBO J. 2001 Jul 16;20(14):3716-27.

Positive and negative regulation of Raf kinase activity and function by phosphorylation.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0606, USA.


Activating and inhibitory phosphorylation mechanisms play an essential role in regulating Raf kinase activity. Here we demonstrate that phosphorylation of C-Raf in the kinase activation loop (residues T491 and S494) is necessary, but not sufficient, for activation. C-Raf has additional activating phosphorylation sites at S338 and Y341. Mutating all four of these residues to acidic residues, S338D/Y341D/T491E/S494D (DDED), in C-Raf results in constitutive activity. However, acidic residue substitutions at the corresponding activation loop sites in B-Raf are sufficient to confer constitutive activity. B-Raf and C-Raf also utilize similar inhibitory phosphorylation mechanisms to regulate kinase activity. B-Raf has multiple inhibitory phosphorylation sites necessary for full kinase inhibition where C-Raf requires only one. We examined the functional significance of these inhibitory and activating phosphorylations in Caenorhabditis elegans lin-45 Raf. Eliminating the inhibitory phosphorylation or mimicking activating phosphorylation sites is sufficient to confer constitutive activity upon lin-45 Raf and induce multi-vulva phenotypes in C.elegans. Our results demonstrate that different members of the Raf family kinases have both common and distinct phosphorylation mechanisms to regulate kinase activity and biological function.

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