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Insights into the Importance of DFD-Motif and Insertion I1 in Stabilizing the DFD-Out Conformation of Mnk2 Kinase

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posted on 08.08.2013, 00:00 by Jinqiang Hou, Theodosia Teo, Matthew J. Sykes, Shudong Wang
Human mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK)-interacting kinases 1 and 2 (Mnk1/2) are promising anticancer targets. Mnks possess special insertions and a DFD-motif that are distinct from other kinases. Crystallographic studies of Mnk1/2 have revealed that the DFD-motif adopts the DFG/D-out conformation in which residue F227 flips into the ATP binding pocket. This is rarely observed in other kinases. Although the DFG-out conformation has attracted great interest for designing selective inhibitors, structural requirements for binding and the mechanism governing the DFG-out conformation remain unclear. This work presents for the first time the applicability of 3D models of Mnk2 protein in studying conformational changes by utilizing homology modeling and molecular dynamics simulations. The study reveals that the interactions between residue K234 of insertion I1 and D226 of the DFD motif play a key role in inducing and stabilizing the DFD-out conformation. The structural features will aid in the rational design of Mnk2 inhibitors.