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Biochemistry. 2009 Jul 28;48(29):7019-31. doi: 10.1021/bi900522y.

Characterizing the effects of the juxtamembrane domain on vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 enzymatic activity, autophosphorylation, and inhibition by axitinib.

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Pfizer Global Research and Development, La Jolla, Pfizer Inc., 10777 Science Center Drive, San Diego, California 92121, USA.


The catalytic domains of protein kinases are commonly treated as independent modular units with distinct biological functions. Here, the interactions between the catalytic and juxtamembrane domains of VEGFR2 are studied. Highly purified preparations of the receptor tyrosine kinase VEGFR2 catalytic domain without (VEGFR2-CD) and with (VEGFR2-CD/JM) the juxtamembrane (JM) domain were characterized by kinetic, biophysical, and structural methods. Although the catalytic parameters for both constructs were similar, the autophosphorylation rate of VEGFR2-CD/JM was substantially faster than VEGFR2-CD. The first event in the autophosphorylation reaction was phosphorylation of JM residue Y801 followed by phosphorylation of activation loop residues in the CD. The rates of activation loop autophosphorylation for the two constructs were determined to be similar. The autophosphorylation rate of Y801 was invariant on enzyme concentration, which is consistent with an intramolecular reaction. In addition, the first biochemical characterization of the advanced clinical compound axitinib is reported. Axitinib was found to have 40-fold enhanced biochemical potency toward VEGFR2-CD/JM (K(i) = 28 pM) compared to VEGFR2-CD, which correlates better with cellular potency. Calorimetric studies, including a novel ITC compound displacement method, confirmed the potency and provided insight into the thermodynamic origin of the potency differences. A structural model for the VEGFR2-CD/JM is proposed based on the experimental findings reported here and on the JM position in c-Kit, FLT3, and CSF1/cFMS. The described studies identify potential functions of the VEGFR2 JM domain with implications to both receptor biology and inhibitor design.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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