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Nat Genet. 1997 Jul;16(3):293-7.

Endothelial apoptosis in Braf-deficient mice.

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Section on Genetics, National Institute of Mental Health/National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Tyrosine kinase growth factor receptors and Ras/Raf/MEK/MAPK signalling have been implicated in the suppression as well as augmentation of programmed cell death. In addition, a Ras-independent role for Raf as a suppressor of programmed cell death has been suggested by the recent finding that Craf1 interacts with members of the Bcl-2 family at mitochondrial membranes. However, genetic studies of C. elegans and Drosophila, as well as the targeted mutagenesis of the murine Araf gene, have failed to support such a role. Here we show that mice with a targeted disruption in the Braf gene die of vascular defects during mid-gestation. Braf -/- embryos, unlike Araf -/- or Craf1 -/- embryos (L.W. et al., unpublished), show an increased number of endothelial precursor cells, dramatically enlarged blood vessels and apoptotic death of differentiated endothelial cells. These results establish Braf as a critical signalling factor in the formation of the vascular system and provide the first genetic evidence for an essential role of Raf gene in the regulation of programmed cell death.

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