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Mol Cell Biol. 2014 May;34(9):1538-46. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00057-14. Epub 2014 Feb 24.

Kinases and pseudokinases: lessons from RAF.

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Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


Protein kinases are thought to mediate their biological effects through their catalytic activity. The large number of pseudokinases in the kinome and an increasing appreciation that they have critical roles in signaling pathways, however, suggest that catalyzing protein phosphorylation may not be the only function of protein kinases. Using the principle of hydrophobic spine assembly, we interpret how kinases are capable of performing a dual function in signaling. Its first role is that of a signaling enzyme (classical kinases; canonical), while its second role is that of an allosteric activator of other kinases or as a scaffold protein for signaling in a manner that is independent of phosphoryl transfer (classical pseudokinases; noncanonical). As the hydrophobic spines are a conserved feature of the kinase domain itself, all kinases carry an inherent potential to play both roles in signaling. This review focuses on the recent lessons from the RAF kinases that effectively toggle between these roles and can be "frozen" by introducing mutations at their hydrophobic spines.

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