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BMC Evol Biol. 2011 Jan 5;11:4. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-11-4.

Phylogenomics of phosphoinositide lipid kinases: perspectives on the evolution of second messenger signaling and drug discovery.

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Computational Biology, Quantitative Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, 1250 South Collegeville Road, UP1345, P,O, Box 5089, Collegeville, PA 19426-0989, USA.



Phosphoinositide lipid kinases (PIKs) generate specific phosphorylated variants of phosatidylinositols (PtdIns) that are critical for second messenger signaling and cellular membrane remodeling. Mammals have 19 PIK isoforms spread across three major families: the PtIns 3-kinases (PI3Ks), PtdIns 4-kinases (PI4Ks), and PtdIns-P (PIP) kinases (PIPKs). Other eukaryotes have fewer yet varying PIK complements. PIKs are also an important, emerging class of drug targets for many therapeutic areas including cancer, inflammatory and metabolic diseases and host-pathogen interactions. Here, we report the genomic occurrences and evolutionary relationships or phylogenomics of all three PIK families across major eukaryotic groups and suggest potential ramifications for drug discovery.


Our analyses reveal four core eukaryotic PIKs which are type III PIK4A and PIK4B, and at least one homolog each from PI3K (possibly PIK3C3 as the ancestor) and PIP5K families. We also applied evolutionary analyses to PIK disease ontology and drug discovery. Mutated PIK3CA are known to be oncogenic and several inhibitors are in anti-cancer clinical trials. We found conservation of activating mutations of PIK3CA in paralogous isoforms suggesting specific functional constraints on these residues. By mapping published compound inhibition data (IC50s) onto a phylogeny of PI3Ks, type II PI4Ks and distantly related, MTOR, ATM, ATR and PRKDC kinases, we also show that compound polypharmacology corresponds to kinase evolutionary relationships. Finally, we extended the rationale for drugs targeting PIKs of malarial Plasmodium falciparum, and the parasites, Leishmania sp. and Trypanosoma sp. by identifying those PIKs highly divergent from human homologs.


Our phylogenomic analysis of PIKs provides new insights into the evolution of second messenger signaling. We postulate two waves of PIK diversification, the first in metazoans with a subsequent expansion in cold-blooded vertebrates that was post-emergence of Deutrostomia\Chordata but prior to the appearance of mammals. Reconstruction of the evolutionary relationships among these lipid kinases also adds to our understanding of their roles in various diseases and assists in their development as potential drug targets.

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