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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Apr;16(4):1722-33.

Wortmannin inactivates phosphoinositide 3-kinase by covalent modification of Lys-802, a residue involved in the phosphate transfer reaction.

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Institute of Biochemistry, University of Fribourg, Switzerland.


Wortmannin at nanomolar concentrations is a potent and specific inhibitor of phosphoinositide (PI) 3-kinase and has been used extensively to demonstrate the role of this enzyme in diverse signal transduction processes. At higher concentrations, wortmannin inhibits the ataxia telangiectasia gene (ATM)-related DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PKcs). We report here the identification of the site of interaction of wortmannin on the catalytic subunit of PI 3-kinase, p110alpha. At physiological pH (6.5 to 8) wortmannin reacted specifically with p110alpha. Phosphatidylinositol-4,5-diphosphate, ATP, and ATP analogs [adenine and 5'-(4-fluorosulfonylbenzoyl)adenine] competed effectively with wortmannin, while substances containing nucleophilic amino acid side chain functions had no effect at the same concentrations. This suggests that the wortmannin target site is localized in proximity to the substrate-binding site and that residues involved in wortmannin binding have an increased nucleophilicity because of their protein environment. Proteolytic fragments of wortmannin-treated, recombinant p110alpha were mapped with anti-wortmannin and anti-p110alpha peptide antibodies, thus limiting the target site within a 10-kDa fragment, colocalizing with the ATP-binding site. Site-directed mutagenesis of all candidate residues within this region showed that only the conservative Lys-802-to-Arg mutation abolished wortmannin binding. Inhibition of PI 3-kinase occurs, therefore, by the formation of an enamine following the attack of Lys-802 on the furan ring (at C-20) of wortmannin. The Lys-802-to-Arg mutant was also unable to bind FSBA and was catalytically inactive in lipid and protein kinase assays, indicating a crucial role for Lys-802 in the phosphotransfer reaction. In contrast, an Arg-916-to-Pro mutation abolished the catalytic activity whereas covalent wortmannin binding remained intact. Our results provide the basis for the design of novel and specific inhibitors of an enzyme family, including PI kinases and ATM-related genes, that play a central role in many physiological processes.

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