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J Biol Chem. 2001 Dec 14;276(50):46933-40. Epub 2001 Oct 11.

Multiple activation loop conformations and their regulatory properties in the insulin receptor's kinase domain.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1 Gustave Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Low catalytic efficiency of protein kinases often results from intrasteric inhibition caused by the activation loop blocking the active site. In the insulin receptor's kinase domain, Asp-1161 and Tyr-1162 in the peptide substrate-like sequence of the unphosphorylated activation loop can interact with four invariant residues in the active site: Lys-1085, Asp-1132, Arg-1136, and Gln-1208. Contributions of these six residues to intrasteric inhibition were tested by mutagenesis, and the unphosphorylated kinase domains were characterized. The mutations Q1208S, K1085N, and Y1162F each relieved intrasteric inhibition, increasing catalytic efficiency but without changing the rate-limiting step of the reaction. The mutants R1136Q and D1132N were virtually inactive. Steric accessibility of the active site was ranked by relative changes in iodide quenching of intrinsic fluorescence, and A-loop conformation was ranked by limited tryptic cleavage. Together these ranked the openness of the active site cleft as R1136Q approximately D1132N > or = D1161A > Y1162F approximately K1085N > Q1208S > or = wild-type. These findings demonstrate the importance of specific invariant residues for intrasteric inhibition and show that diverse activation loop conformations can produce similar steady-state kinetic properties. This suggests a broader range of regulatory properties for the activation loop than expected from a simple off-versus-on switch for kinase activation.

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