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Mol Cell Biol. 1994 Dec;14(12):8212-8.

RAS and RAF-1 form a signalling complex with MEK-1 but not MEK-2.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville 22908.


Recent studies have demonstrated the existence of a physical complex containing p21ras (RAS), p74raf-1 (RAF-1), and MEK-1. Although it is clear that formation of this complex depends on the activation state of RAS, it is not known whether this complex is regulated by the activation state of the cell and whether MEK-2 is also present in the complex. To analyze the regulation and specificity of this complex, we utilized immobilized RAS to probe lysates of cultured NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and analyzed the proteins complexing with RAS following serum starvation or stimulation. Complex formation among RAS, RAF-1, and MEK-1 was dependent only on RAS:GMP-PNP and not on cell stimulation. Incubations of lysates with immobilized RAS depleted all RAF-1 from the lysate but bound only a small fraction of cytosolic MEK-1, and further MEK-1 could bind immobilized RAS only if exogenous RAF-1 was added to the lysate. This indicates that binding of MEK-1 to RAS depends on the presence of RAF-1 or an equivalent protein. In contrast to MEK-1, MEK-2 was not detected in the RAS signalling complex. A proline-rich region of MEK-1 containing a phosphorylation site appears to be essential for signalling complex formation. Consistent with the preferential binding of MEK-1 to RAS:RAF-1, the basal activity of MEK-1 in v-ras-transformed cells was found to be elevated sixfold, whereas MEK-2 was elevated only twofold, suggesting that the RAS signalling pathway favors MEK-1 activation.

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