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Keywords:

  • B-Raf isoforms;
  • ERK;
  • MAPK;
  • neuronal signalling pathway;
  • Raf kinases

Abstract

The Raf kinases play an important and specific role in the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) cascade. Beside its role in the control of proliferation and differentiation, the ERK cascade has also been implicated in neuron-specific functions. In order to gain clues on the function of Raf kinases in the adult central nervous system (CNS), we performed a comparative analysis of the distribution and subcellular localization of the different Raf kinases in rat brain with antibodies specific for the different Raf kinases. We show that B-Raf and Raf-1 proteins are present in most brain areas, whereas A-Raf is not detected. Interestingly, the two Raf proteins have an approximately similar pattern of distribution with a rostro-caudal decreasing gradient of expression. These two kinases are colocalized in neurons but they are differentially located in subcellular compartments. Raf-1 is localized mainly in the cytosolic fraction around the nucleus, whereas B-Raf is widely distributed in the cell bodies and in the neuritic processes. In addition, we demonstrated that numerous B-Raf isoforms are present in the brain. These isoforms have a differential pattern of distribution, some of them being ubiquitously expressed whereas others are localized to specific brain areas. These isoforms also have a clear differential subcellular localization, specially in Triton-insoluble fractions, but also in synaptosomal, membrane and cytosolic compartments. Altogether these results suggest that each Raf protein could have a distinct signalling regulatory function in the brain with regard to its subcellular localization.