The Raf/MEK/ERK signal transduction cascade belongs to the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades. Raf/MEK/ERK signaling leads to stimulus-specific changes in gene expression, alterations in cell metabolism or induction of programmed cell death (apoptosis), and thus controls cell differentiation and proliferation. It is induced by extracellular agents, including pathogens such as RNA viruses. Many DNA viruses are known to induce cellular signaling via this pathway. As these pathogens partly use the DNA synthesis machinery for their replication, they aim to drive cells into a proliferative state. In contrast, the consequences of RNA virus-induced Raf/MEK/ERK signaling were less clear for a long time, but since the turn of the century the number of publications on this topic has rapidly increased. Research on this virus/host-interaction will broaden our understanding of its relevance in viral replication. This important control center of cellular responses is differently employed to support the replication of several important human pathogenic RNA viruses including influenza, Ebola, hepatitis C and SARS corona viruses.
©2008 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York