Targeting Conformational Activation of CDK2 Kinase.


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Cyclin-dependent kinases constitute attractive pharmacological targets for cancer therapeutics, yet inhibitors in clinical trials target the ATP-binding pocket of the CDK and therefore suffer from limited selectivity and emergence of resistance. The more recent development of allosteric inhibitors targeting conformational plasticity of protein kinases offers promising perspectives for therapeutics. In particular tampering with T-loop dynamics of CDK2 kinase would provide a selective means of inhibiting this kinase, by preventing its conformational activation. To this aim we engineered a fluorescent biosensor that specifically reports on conformational changes of CDK2 activation loop and is insensitive to ATP or ATP-competitive inhibitors, which constitutes a highly sensitive probe for identification of selective T-loop modulators. This biosensor was successfully applied to screen a library of small chemical compounds leading to discovery of a family of quinacridine analogs, which potently inhibit cancer cell proliferation, and promote accumulation of cells in S phase and G2. These compounds bind CDK2/ Cyclin A, inhibit its kinase activity, compete with substrate binding, but not with ATP, and dock onto the T-loop of CDK2. The best compound also binds CDK4 and CDK4/Cyclin D1, but not CDK1. The strategy we describe opens new doors for the discovery of a new class of allosteric CDK inhibitors for cancer therapeutics.
Allosteric regulation,Cyclin-dependent kinase,Fluorescent biosensor,High-throughput screening,Inhibitor
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