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Activation Loop Dynamics Are Coupled to Core Motions in Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase‑2

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journal contribution
posted on 15.07.2020, 16:06 by Dylan B. Iverson, Yao Xiao, David N. Jones, Elan Z. Eisenmesser, Natalie G. Ahn
The activation loop segment in protein kinases is a common site for regulatory phosphorylation. In extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2), dual phosphorylation and conformational rearrangement of the activation loop accompany enzyme activation. X-ray structures show the active conformation to be stabilized by multiple ion pair interactions between phosphorylated threonine and tyrosine residues in the loop and six arginine residues in the kinase core. Despite the extensive salt bridge network, nuclear magnetic resonance Carr–Purcell–Meiboom–Gill relaxation dispersion experiments show that the phosphorylated activation loop is conformationally mobile on a microsecond to millisecond time scale. The dynamics of the loop match those of previously reported global exchange within the kinase core region and surrounding the catalytic site that have been found to facilitate productive nucleotide binding. Mutations in the core region that alter these global motions also alter the dynamics of the activation loop. Conversely, mutations in the activation loop perturb the global exchange within the kinase core. Together, these findings provide evidence for coupling between motions in the activation loop and those surrounding the catalytic site in the active state of the kinase. Thus, the activation loop segment in dual-phosphorylated ERK2 is not held statically in the active X-ray conformation but instead undergoes exchange between conformers separated by a small energetic barrier, serving as part of a dynamic allosteric network controlling nucleotide binding and catalytic function.

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