Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 5;286(31):27537-47. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.196972. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

An undecided coiled coil: the leucine zipper of Nek2 kinase exhibits atypical conformational exchange dynamics.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 9HN, United Kingdom.


Leucine zippers are oligomerization domains used in a wide range of proteins. Their structure is based on a highly conserved heptad repeat sequence in which two key positions are occupied by leucines. The leucine zipper of the cell cycle-regulated Nek2 kinase is important for its dimerization and activation. However, the sequence of this leucine zipper is most unusual in that leucines occupy only one of the two hydrophobic positions. The other position, depending on the register of the heptad repeat, is occupied by either acidic or basic residues. Using NMR spectroscopy, we show that this leucine zipper exists in two conformations of almost equal population that exchange with a rate of 17 s(-1). We propose that the two conformations correspond to the two possible registers of the heptad repeat. This hypothesis is supported by a cysteine mutant that locks the protein in one of the two conformations. NMR spectra of this mutant showed the predicted 2-fold reduction of peaks in the (15)N HSQC spectrum and the complete removal of cross peaks in exchange spectra. It is possible that interconversion of these two conformations may be triggered by external signals in a manner similar to that proposed recently for the microtubule binding domain of dynein and the HAMP domain. As a result, the leucine zipper of Nek2 kinase is the first example where the frameshift of coiled-coil heptad repeats has been directly observed experimentally.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk