Edmond Fischer's kinase legacy: History of the protein kinase inhibitor and protein kinase A

Susan S. Taylor, Friedrich W. Herberg, Gianluigi Veglia, Jian Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Although Fischer's extraordinary career came to focus mostly on the protein phosphatases, after his co-discovery of Phosphorylase Kinase with Ed Krebs he was clearly intrigued not only by cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), but also by the heat-stable, high-affinity protein kinase inhibitor (PKI). PKI is an intrinsically disordered protein that contains at its N-terminus a pseudo-substrate motif that binds synergistically and with high-affinity to the PKA catalytic (C) subunit. The sequencing and characterization of this inhibitor peptide (IP20) were validated by the structure of the PKA C-subunit solved first as a binary complex with IP20 and then as a ternary complex with ATP and two magnesium ions. A second motif, nuclear export signal (NES), was later discovered in PKI. Both motifs correspond to amphipathic helices that convey high-affinity binding. The dynamic features of full-length PKI, recently captured by NMR, confirmed that the IP20 motif becomes dynamically and sequentially ordered only in the presence of the C-subunit. The type I PKA regulatory (R) subunits also contain a pseudo-substrate ATPMg2-dependent high-affinity inhibitor sequence. PKI and PKA, especially the Cβ subunit, are highly expressed in the brain, and PKI expression is also cell cycle-dependent. In addition, PKI is now linked to several cancers. The full biological importance of PKI and PKA signaling in the brain, and their importance in cancer thus remains to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-323
Number of pages13
JournalIUBMB Life
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Alexandr Kornev for helping with manuscript preparation. S.S.T. was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (R35 GM130389, R01‐19301, and R01‐34921). F.W.H. was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft [DFG He1818/12‐1] and the DFG Research Training Grant “multiscale clocks” (448909517/GRK 2749). G.V. was supported by the NIH (HL 144130).

Funding Information:
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Grant/Award Numbers: 448909517/GRK 2749, DFG He1818/12‐1; National Institutes of Health, Grant/Award Numbers: HL 144130, R01‐19301, R01‐34921, R35 GM130389 Funding information

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


  • Edmond Fischer
  • kinase
  • protein kinase A
  • protein kinase inhibitor
  • pseudo-substrate
  • small linear motifs

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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