, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 11-25

3-D structure and dynamics of protein kinase B—new mechanism for the allosteric regulation of an AGC kinase

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Abstract

New developments regarding the structure and in vivo dynamics of protein kinase B (PKB/Akt) have been recently exposed. Here, we specifically review how the use of multi-disciplinary approaches has resulted in reaching the recent progress made to relate the quaternary structure of PKB to its in vivo function. Using X-ray crystallography, the structure of PKB pleckstrin homology (PH) and kinase domains was determined separately. The molecular mechanisms involved in (a) the binding of the phosphoinositides to the PH domain and (b) the activation of the kinase with the rearrangement of the catalytic site and substrate binding were determined. In vitro, nuclear magnetic resonance and circular dychroism studies gave complementary information on the interaction of the PH domain with the phosphoinositides. However, the molecular nature and the function of the interactions between the PKB domains could not be deduced from the X-ray data since the full-length PKB has not been crystallised. In vitro, dynamic information on the inter-domain conformational changes related to PKB activation states emerged with the use of tandem mass spectrometry. Cell imaging and Förster resonance energy transfer provided in vivo dynamics. Molecular modelling and dynamic simulations in conjunction with mutagenesis and biochemical analysis were used to investigate the complex interactions between the PKB domains in vivo and understand at the molecular level how it linked to its activity. The compilation of the information obtained on the 3-D structure and the spatiotemporal dynamics of this widely studied oncogene could be applied to the study of other proteins. This inter-disciplinary approach led to a more profound understanding of PKB complex activation mechanism in vivo that will shed light onto new ideas and possibilities for modulating its activity.