Journal article Open Access

Raf-1 protein kinase is required for growth of induced NIH/3T3 cells

Kolch, Walter; Heidecker, Gisela; Lloyd, Patricia; Rapp, Ulf R.

MANY growth factors regulate the cytoplasmic Raf-1 protein kinase1–10, consistent with its having a central role in transduction of growth signals. The kinase is ubiquitously expressed11 and can promote proliferation12, presumably in a manner dependent on growth-factor receptors and membrane-associated oncogenes13–15. We have now examined the dependence of serum- and TPA (12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate)-regulated NIH/3T3 cell growth on RAF-1 kinase to determine whether Raf-1 is essential for receptor signalling. We inhibited Raf-1 function by expressing c-raf-1 antisense RNA or kinase-defective c-raf-1 mutants. Antisense RNA for c-raf-1 interferes with proliferation of normal NIH/3T3 cells and reverts raf- transformed cells. In revertant cells, DNA replication induced by serum or TPA was eliminated or reduced proportionately to the reduction in Raf protein levels. Expression of a kinase-defective Raf-1 mutant (craf301) or a regulatory domain fragment (HCR) inhibited serum-induced NIH/3T3-cell proliferation and raf transformation even more efficiently. Inhibition by antisense RNA or craf301 blocked proliferation and transformation by Ki- and Ha-ras oncogenes. We conclude that raf functions as an essential signal transducer downstream of serum growth factor receptors, protein kinase C and ras.
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