Kinase Suppressor of Ras (KSR) is an intriguing component of the Ras pathway that was first identified by genetic studies performed in Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. In both organisms, inactivating mutations in KSR suppress the phenotypic effects induced by activated Ras. These findings together with the fact that KSR contains many structural features characteristic of a protein kinase led to early speculation that KSR is a kinase functioning upstream of the Ras pathway component Raf-1 or in a parallel Ras-dependent pathway. However, in the six years since its discovery, KSR has been found to lack several key properties of known protein kinases, which has cast doubt on whether KSR is indeed a functional enzyme. A major breakthrough in our understanding of the role of KSR in signal transduction has come from recent findings that KSR interacts with several components of the MAP kinase cascade, including Raf-1, MEK1/2 and ERK1/2. The model now emerging is that KSR acts as a scaffolding protein that coordinates the assembly of a membrane-localized, multiprotein MAP kinase complex, a vital step in Ras-mediated signal transduction. Thus, while Kinase Suppressor of Ras may be its name, phosphorylation may not be its game.
- © 2001 by Company of Biologists