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Kinase-independent role for CRAF-driving tumour radioresistance via CHK2


Although oncology therapy regimens commonly include radiation and genotoxic drugs, tumour cells typically develop resistance to these interventions. Here we report that treatment of tumours with ionizing radiation or genotoxic drugs drives p21-activated kinase 1 (PAK1)-mediated phosphorylation of CRAF on Serine 338 (pS338) triggering a kinase-independent mechanism of DNA repair and therapeutic resistance. CRAF pS338 recruits CHK2, a cell cycle checkpoint kinase involved in DNA repair, and promotes CHK2 phosphorylation/activation to enhance the tumour cell DNA damage response. Accordingly, a phospho-mimetic mutant of CRAF (S338D) is sufficient to induce the CRAF/CHK2 association enhancing tumour radioresistance, while an allosteric CRAF inhibitor sensitizes tumour cells to ionizing radiation or genotoxic drugs. Our findings establish a role for CRAF in the DNA damage response that is independent from its canonical function as a kinase.

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