Mechanisms of regulating the Raf kinase family

Cell Signal. 2003 May;15(5):463-9. doi: 10.1016/s0898-6568(02)00139-0.


The MAP Kinase pathway is a key signalling mechanism that regulates many cellular functions such as cell growth, transformation and apoptosis. One of the essential components of this pathway is the serine/threonine kinase, Raf. Raf (MAPKK kinase, MAPKKK) relays the extracellular signal from the receptor/Ras complex to a cascade of cytosolic kinases by phosphorylating and activating MAPK/ERK kinase (MEK; MAPK kinase, MAPKK) that phosphorylates and activates extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK; mitogen-activated protein kinase, MAPK), which phosphorylates various cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins. Regulation of both Ras and Raf is crucial in the proper maintenance of cell growth as oncogenic mutations in these genes lead to high transforming activity. Ras is mutated in 30% of all human cancers and B-Raf is mutated in 60% of malignant melanomas. The mechanisms that regulate the small GTPase Ras as well as the downstream kinases MEK and extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) are well understood. However, the regulation of Raf is complex and involves the integration of other signalling pathways as well as intramolecular interactions, phosphorylation, dephosphorylation and protein-protein interactions. From studies using mammalian isoforms of Raf, as well as C. elegans lin45-Raf, common patterns and unique differences of regulation have emerged. This review will summarize recent findings on the regulation of Raf kinase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins A-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf / metabolism*


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins A-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins