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Cancer Res. 2005 Nov 1;65(21):9719-26.

Mutations of C-RAF are rare in human cancer because C-RAF has a low basal kinase activity compared with B-RAF.

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The Institute of Cancer Research, Signal Transduction Team, Cancer Research UK Centre of Cell and Molecular Biology, London, United Kingdom.


The protein kinase B-RAF is mutated in approximately 8% of human cancers. Here we show that presumptive mutants of the closely related kinase, C-RAF, were detected in only 4 of 545 (0.7%) cancer cell lines. The activity of two of the mutated proteins is not significantly different from that of wild-type C-RAF and these variants may represent rare human polymorphisms. The basal and B-RAF-stimulated kinase activities of a third variant are unaltered but its activation by RAS is significantly reduced, suggesting that it may act in a dominant-negative manner to modulate pathway signaling. The fourth variant has elevated basal kinase activity and is hypersensitive to activation by RAS but does not transform mammalian cells. Furthermore, when we introduce the equivalent of the most common cancer mutation in B-RAF (V600E) into C-RAF, it only has a weak effect on kinase activity and does not convert C-RAF into an oncogene. This lack of activation occurs because C-RAF lacks a constitutive charge within a motif in the kinase domain called the N-region. This fundamental difference in RAF isoform regulation explains why B-RAF is frequently mutated in cancer whereas C-RAF mutations are rare.

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