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Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017 Sep 11;56(38):11409-11414. doi: 10.1002/anie.201704654. Epub 2017 Aug 7.

Dynamic Equilibrium of the Aurora A Kinase Activation Loop Revealed by Single-Molecule Spectroscopy.

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National Heart & Lung Institute, SAF Building, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ, UK.
Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit, The Institute of Cancer Research, 15 Cotswold Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5NG, UK.


The conformation of the activation loop (T-loop) of protein kinases underlies enzymatic activity and influences the binding of small-molecule inhibitors. By using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy, we have determined that phosphorylated Aurora A kinase is in dynamic equilibrium between a DFG-in-like active T-loop conformation and a DFG-out-like inactive conformation, and have measured the rate constants of interconversion. Addition of the Aurora A activating protein TPX2 shifts the equilibrium towards an active T-loop conformation whereas addition of the inhibitors MLN8054 and CD532 favors an inactive T-loop. We show that Aurora A binds TPX2 and MLN8054 simultaneously and provide a new model for kinase conformational behavior. Our approach will enable conformation-specific effects to be integrated into inhibitor discovery across the kinome, and we outline some immediate consequences for structure-based drug discovery.


Aurora A; activation loop; drug design; kinases; single-molecule studies

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