Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Chemistry and Biochemistry


College of Science & Mathematics


Zhihong Wang, PhD

Committee Member 1

Zhiwei Liu, PhD

Committee Member 2

Hao Zhu, PhD

Committee Member 3

Subash Jonnalagadda, PhD

Committee Member 4

John Tomsho, PhD


Allosteric inhibitor, Braftide, CID-BRAF, Phosphorylation, RAF kinase




Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Chemistry


RAF kinases (ARAF/BRAF/CRAF or Raf-1) are serine/threonine kinases in the MAPK (RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK) pathway. The MAPK pathway is crucial in development and normal cell function. These same roles are dysregulated in cancer; BRAF is the most frequently mutated isoform in cancers and in particular, activation loop mutants BRAF V600E/K mutants have the highest mutational incidence. Three FDA approved inhibitors potently inhibit BRAF V600E/K mutants. However, these same inhibitors fail to address the non-V600E/K mutations and result in paradoxical activation of the MAPK pathway. Two strategies were employed to address the limitations of the FDA-approved inhibitors: provide novel regulatory details of RAF kinase and identify the mechanism of action of Braftide, a lead peptide that circumvents paradoxical activation. Both strategies use a chemo-proteomic approach and validation in a physiologically relevant environment with cell-based assays. Using mutational analysis of an identified phosphorylation site of BRAF, we identify a negative regulatory switch of BRAF that decreases downstream MEK phosphorylation by dissociating the known 14-3-3 scaffolding protein interaction and RAF dimerization. Furthermore, crosslinking-mass spectrometry revealed the binding regions of Braftide that disrupt known regulatory mechanisms of BRAF and the CDC37, co-chaperone. Together, these reports resolve foundational mechanisms for next generation inhibitor development for MAPK pathway attenuation

Available for download on Friday, September 26, 2025