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Mol Oncol. 2013 Oct;7(5):968-75. doi: 10.1016/j.molonc.2013.06.001. Epub 2013 Jun 15.

Through the open door: Preferential binding of dasatinib to the active form of BCR-ABL unveiled by in silico experiments.

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  • 1Molecular Simulations Engineering (MOSE) Laboratory - DEA, University of Trieste, Piazzale Europa 1, 34127 Trieste, Italy.


Dasatinib is a second-generation BCR-ABL inhibitor approved for the treatment of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, both in the frontline and in the imatinib-resistant/intolerant settings. The high affinity of dasatinib for the protein is currently assumed to result from its ability to bind both the active and inactive conformations of the BCR-ABL kinase. In the present work, using state of the art molecular simulation techniques we prove that dasatinib exhibits a highly selective preference for the active (open) BCR-ABL conformation. By using three different BCR-ABL conformations (active, inactive, and intermediate inactive) we show that, from a thermodynamic standpoint, the affinity of dasatinib for BCR-ABL drastically decreases in the order: active > alternative inactive > inactive, as a result of differential contributions from the single residues lining the kinase binding pocket and the concomitant stabilization/destabilization of the kinase hydrophobic spine. Molecule-pulling experiments also corroborate this trend as significantly lower forces and smaller times are required to extract dasatinib from its inactive BCR-ABL complexes with respect to the active complex counterparts. Importantly, our results support recent NMR solution results demonstrating no evidence of dasatinib bound to the inactive form of BCR-ABL.

Copyright © 2013 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


BCR-ABL; Binding mode; Dasatinib; Hydrophobic-spine; Resistance

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