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Characterization of Protein Kinase ULK3 Regulation by Phosphorylation and Inhibition by Small Molecule SU6668

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posted on 10.08.2018, 00:00 by Lagle Kasak, Mihkel Näks, Priit Eek, Alla Piirsoo, Rohit Bhadoria, Pavel Starkov, Merilin Saarma, Sergo Kasvandik, Marko Piirsoo
Serine/threonine protein kinase ULK3 is implicated in a variety of cellular processes, including autophagy, cell division, and execution of the Sonic hedgehog pathway. However, very little about how its biological activity could be controlled is known. This study focuses on unraveling biochemical insights into the mechanism of inhibition and activation of ULK3. We identify novel phosphorylation sites in ULK3 and show that autophosphorylation has no impact on the kinase activity of the protein. We further demonstrate that phosphorylation of two residues in the kinase domain of ULK3 by an as yet unidentified kinase may completely abolishes its catalytic activity. We show that a low-molecular weight inhibitor SU6668, designed as an ATP competitive inhibitor for tyrosine kinases, binds in the ATP pocket of ULK3 yet inhibits ULK3 kinase activity in a partially ATP noncompetitive manner. Finally, we demonstrate that the ULK3 kinase domain, annotated in silico, is not sufficient for its kinase activity, and additional amino acids in the 271–300 region are required.