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Differential localization of A-Raf regulates MST2-mediated apoptosis during epithelial differentiation.

Rauch J., Vandamme D., Mack B., McCann B., Volinsky N., Blanco A., Gires O., Kolch W.

A-Raf belongs to the family of oncogenic Raf kinases that are involved in mitogenic signaling by activating the MEK-ERK pathway. Low kinase activity of A-Raf toward MEK suggested that A-Raf might have alternative functions. We recently identified A-Raf as a potent inhibitor of the proapoptotic mammalian sterile 20-like kinase (MST2) tumor suppressor pathway in several cancer entities including head and neck, colon, and breast. Independent of kinase activity, A-Raf binds to MST2 thereby efficiently inhibiting apoptosis. Here, we show that the interaction of A-Raf with the MST2 pathway is regulated by subcellular compartmentalization. Although in proliferating normal cells and tumor cells A-Raf localizes to the mitochondria, differentiated non-carcinogenic cells of head and neck epithelia, which express A-Raf at the plasma membrane. The constitutive or induced re-localization of A-Raf to the plasma membrane compromises its ability to efficiently sequester and inactivate MST2, thus rendering cells susceptible to apoptosis. Physiologically, A-Raf re-localizes to the plasma membrane upon epithelial differentiation in vivo. This re-distribution is regulated by the scaffold protein kinase suppressor of Ras 2 (KSR2). Downregulation of KSR2 during mammary epithelial cell differentiation or siRNA-mediated knockdown re-localizes A-Raf to the plasma membrane causing the release of MST2. By using the MCF7 cell differentiation system, we could demonstrate that overexpression of A-Raf in MCF7 cells, which induces differentiation. Our findings offer a new paradigm to understand how differential localization of Raf complexes affects diverse signaling functions in normal cells and carcinomas.

Cell Death Differ. 23:1283-1295(2016) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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