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Date of Original Version



Cell & Molecular Biology


Csk and Src protein tyrosine kinases are structurally homologous but use opposite regulatory strategies. The isolated catalytic domain of Csk is intrinsically inactive and is activated by interactions with the regulatory Src homology 3 (SH3) and SH2 domains, while the isolated catalytic domain of Src is intrinsically active and is suppressed by interactions with the regulatory SH3 and SH2 domains. The structural basis for why one isolated catalytic domain is intrinsically active while the other is inactive is not clear. In this study, we identified structural elements in the N-terminal lobe of the catalytic domain that render the Src catalytic domain active. These structural elements include the α-helix C region, a β turn between the β4 and β5 strands, and an Arg residue at the beginning of the catalytic domain. These three motifs interact with one another to activate the Src catalytic domain, but the equivalent motifs in Csk directly interact with the regulatory domains that are important for Csk activation. The Src motifs can be grafted to the Csk catalytic domain to obtain an active Csk catalytic domain. These results, together with available Src and Csk tertiary structures, reveal an important structural switch that determines the kinase activity of a catalytic domain and dictates the regulatory strategy of a kinase.

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Creative Commons License
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