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EMBO J. 2006 Nov 29;25(23):5469-80. Epub 2006 Nov 16.

Allosteric activation of the protein kinase PDK1 with low molecular weight compounds.

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Research Group PhosphoSites, Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, University of Saarland, Saarbrücken, Germany.


Organisms rely heavily on protein phosphorylation to transduce intracellular signals. The phosphorylation of a protein often induces conformational changes, which are responsible for triggering downstream cellular events. Protein kinases are themselves frequently regulated by phosphorylation. Recently, we and others proposed the molecular mechanism by which phosphorylation at a hydrophobic motif (HM) regulates the conformation and activity of many members of the AGC group of protein kinases. Here we have developed specific, low molecular weight compounds, which target the HM/PIF-pocket and have the ability to allosterically activate phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1) by modulating the phosphorylation-dependent conformational transition. The mechanism of action of these compounds was characterized by mutagenesis of PDK1, synthesis of compound analogs, interaction-displacement studies and isothermal titration calorimetry experiments. Our results raise the possibility of developing drugs that target the AGC kinases via a novel mode of action and may inspire future rational development of compounds with the ability to modulate phosphorylation-dependent conformational transitions in other proteins.

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