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1.  A Discovery Strategy for Selective Inhibitors of c-Src in Complex with the Focal Adhesion Kinase SH3/SH2-binding Region 
Chemical biology & drug design  2014;86(2):144-155.
The c-Src tyrosine kinase co-operates with the focal adhesion kinase to regulate cell adhesion and motility. Focal adhesion kinase engages the regulatory SH3 and SH2 domains of c-Src, resulting in localized kinase activation that contributes to tumor cell metastasis. Using assay conditions where c-Src kinase activity required binding to a tyrosine phosphopeptide based on the focal adhesion kinase SH3-SH2 docking sequence, we screened a kinase-biased library for selective inhibitors of the Src/focal adhesion kinase peptide complex versus c-Src alone. This approach identified an aminopyrimidinyl carbamate compound, WH-4-124-2, with nanomolar inhibitory potency and fivefold selectivity for c-Src when bound to the phospho-focal adhesion kinase peptide. Molecular docking studies indicate that WH-4-124-2 may preferentially inhibit the ‘DFG-out’ conformation of the kinase active site. These findings suggest that interaction of c-Src with focal adhesion kinase induces a unique kinase domain conformation amenable to selective inhibition.
PMCID: PMC4444405  PMID: 25376742
Src kinase; focal adhesion kinase; SH3 domain; SH2 domain; kinase inhibitors; cancer drug discovery
2.  Differential Sensitivity of Src-Family Kinases to Activation by SH3 Domain Displacement 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105629.
Src-family kinases (SFKs) are non-receptor protein-tyrosine kinases involved in a variety of signaling pathways in virtually every cell type. The SFKs share a common negative regulatory mechanism that involves intramolecular interactions of the SH3 domain with the PPII helix formed by the SH2-kinase linker as well as the SH2 domain with a conserved phosphotyrosine residue in the C-terminal tail. Growing evidence suggests that individual SFKs may exhibit distinct activation mechanisms dictated by the relative strengths of these intramolecular interactions. To elucidate the role of the SH3:linker interaction in the regulation of individual SFKs, we used a synthetic SH3 domain-binding peptide (VSL12) to probe the sensitivity of downregulated c-Src, Hck, Lyn and Fyn to SH3-based activation in a kinetic kinase assay. All four SFKs responded to VSL12 binding with enhanced kinase activity, demonstrating a conserved role for SH3:linker interaction in the control of catalytic function. However, the sensitivity and extent of SH3-based activation varied over a wide range. In addition, autophosphorylation of the activation loops of c-Src and Hck did not override regulatory control by SH3:linker displacement, demonstrating that these modes of activation are independent. Our results show that despite the similarity of their downregulated conformations, individual Src-family members show diverse responses to activation by domain displacement which may reflect their adaptation to specific signaling environments in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4140816  PMID: 25144189
3.  Phosphotyrosine-Dependent Coupling of Tim-3 to T-Cell Receptor Signaling Pathways ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(19):3963-3974.
The transmembrane protein Tim-3 has been shown to negatively regulate T-cell-dependent immune responses and was recently demonstrated to be associated with the phenomenon of immune exhaustion, which can occur as a consequence of chronic viral infection. Unlike other negative regulators of T-cell function (e.g., PD-1), Tim-3 does not contain any obvious inhibitory signaling motifs. We have found that ectopic expression of Tim-3 in T cells leads to enhancement of T-cell receptor (TCR)-dependent signaling pathways, which was observed at the level of transcriptional reporters and endogenous cytokine production. We have exploited this observation to dissect what elements within the cytoplasmic tail of Tim-3 are required for coupling to downstream signaling pathways. Here we have demonstrated that two of the more membrane-proximal cytoplasmic tail tyrosines are required for Tim-3 signaling to T-cell activation pathways in a redundant fashion. Furthermore, we show that Tim-3 can directly bind to the Src family tyrosine kinase Fyn and the p85 phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) adaptor. Thus, at least under conditions of short-term stimulation, Tim-3 can augment T-cell activation, although this effect can be blocked by the inclusion of an agonistic antibody to Tim-3. These findings should help further the study of Tim-3 function in other physiological settings, such as those that lead to immune exhaustion.
PMCID: PMC3187355  PMID: 21807895
4.  HIV-1 Nef interaction influences the ATP-binding site of the Src-family kinase, Hck 
BMC Chemical Biology  2012;12:1.
Nef is an HIV-1 accessory protein essential for viral replication and AIDS progression. Nef interacts with a multitude of host cell signaling partners, including members of the Src kinase family. Nef preferentially activates Hck, a Src-family kinase (SFK) strongly expressed in macrophages and other HIV target cells, by binding to its regulatory SH3 domain. Recently, we identified a series of kinase inhibitors that preferentially inhibit Hck in the presence of Nef. These compounds also block Nef-dependent HIV replication, validating the Nef-SFK signaling pathway as an antiretroviral drug target. Our findings also suggested that by binding to the Hck SH3 domain, Nef indirectly affects the conformation of the kinase active site to favor inhibitor association.
To test this hypothesis, we engineered a "gatekeeper" mutant of Hck with enhanced sensitivity to the pyrazolopyrimidine tyrosine kinase inhibitor, NaPP1. We also modified the RT loop of the Hck SH3 domain to enhance interaction of the kinase with Nef. This modification stabilized Nef:Hck interaction in solution-based kinase assays, as a way to mimic the more stable association that likely occurs at cellular membranes. Introduction of the modified RT loop rendered Hck remarkably more sensitive to activation by Nef, and led to a significant decrease in the Km for ATP as well as enhanced inhibitor potency.
These observations suggest that stable interaction with Nef may induce Src-family kinase active site conformations amenable to selective inhibitor targeting.
PMCID: PMC3328272  PMID: 22420777

Results 1-4 (4)