Xiong, C., Liu, X., Meng, A. (2015) The Kinase Activity-deficient Isoform of the Protein Araf Antagonizes Ras/Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase (Ras/MAPK) Signaling in the Zebrafish Embryo. The Journal of biological chemistry. 290(42):25512-21.
Raf kinases are important components of the Ras-Raf-Mek-Erk pathway and also cross-talk with other signaling pathways. Araf kinase has been demonstrated to inhibit TGF-β/Smad2 signaling by directly phosphorylating and accelerating degradation of activated Smad2. In this study, we show that the araf gene expresses in zebrafish embryos to produce a shorter transcript variant, araf-tv2, in addition to the full length variant araf-tv1. araf-tv2 is predicted to encode a C-terminally truncated peptide without the kinase activity domain. Araf-tv2 can physically associate with Araf-tv1 but does not antagonize the inhibitory effect of Araf-tv1 on TGF-β/Smad2 signaling. Instead, Araf-tv2 interacts strongly with Kras and Nras, ultimately blocking MAPK activation by these Ras proteins. In zebrafish embryos, overexpression of araf-tv2 is sufficient to inhibit Fgf/Ras-promoted Erk activation, mesodermal induction, dorsal development and neuroectodermal posteriorization. Therefore, different isoforms of Araf may participate in similar developmental processes but by regulating different signaling pathways.