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J Biol Chem. 2003 Nov 14;278(46):45690-6. Epub 2003 Aug 18.

Functional analysis of a phosphatidic acid binding domain in human Raf-1 kinase: mutations in the phosphatidate binding domain lead to tail and trunk abnormalities in developing zebrafish embryos.

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  • 1GlaxoSmithKline, Genetics Research, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Previously, we and others identified a 35-amino acid segment within human Raf-1 kinase that preferentially binds phosphatidic acid. The presence of phosphatidic acid was found to be necessary for the translocation of Raf-1 to the plasma membrane. We have now employed a combination of alanine-scanning and deletion mutagenesis to identify the critical amino acid residues in Raf-1 necessary for interaction with phosphatidic acid. Progressive mutations within a tetrapeptide motif (residues 398-401 of human Raf-1) reduced and finally eliminated binding of Raf-1 to phosphatidic acid. We then injected zebrafish embryos with RNA encoding wild-type Raf-1 kinase or a mutant version with triple alanine mutations in the tetrapeptide motif and followed the morphological fate of embryonic development. Embryos with mutant but not wild-type Raf-1 exhibited defects in posterior axis formation exemplified by bent trunk and tail structures. Molecular evidence for lack of signaling through mutated Raf-1 was obtained by aberrant in situ hybridization of the ntl (no tail) gene, which functions downstream of Raf-1. Our results demonstrate that a functional phosphatidate binding site is necessary for Raf-1 function in embryonic development.

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