Recombinant production of enzymatically active male contraceptive drug target hTSSK2 - Localization of the TSKS domain phosphorylated by TSSK2

Jagathpala Shetty, Rondedrick Sinville, Igor A. Shumilin, Wladek Minor, Jianhai Zhang, Jon E. Hawkinson, Gunda I. Georg, Charles J. Flickinger, John C. Herr

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9 Scopus citations


The testis-specific serine/threonine kinase 2 (TSSK2) has been proposed as a candidate male contraceptive target. Development of a selective inhibitor for this kinase first necessitates the production of highly purified, soluble human TSSK2 and its substrate, TSKS, with high yields and retention of biological activity for crystallography and compound screening. Strategies to produce full-length, soluble, biologically active hTSSK2 in baculovirus expression systems were tested and refined. Soluble preparations of TSSK2 were purified by immobilized-metal affinity chromatography (IMAC) followed by gel filtration chromatography. The biological activities of rec.hTSSK2 were verified by in vitro kinase and mobility shift assays using bacterially produced hTSKS (isoform 2), casein, glycogen synthase peptide (GS peptide) and various TSKS peptides as target substrates. Purified recombinant hTSSK2 showed robust kinase activity in the in vitro kinase assay by phosphorylating hTSKS isoform 2 and casein. The ATP Km values were similar for highly and partially purified fractions of hTSSK2 (2.2 and 2.7 μM, respectively). The broad spectrum kinase inhibitor staurosporine was a potent inhibitor of rec.hTSSK2 (IC50 = 20 nM). In vitro phosphorylation experiments carried out with TSKS (isoform 1) fragments revealed particularly strong phosphorylation of a recombinant N-terminal region representing aa 1-150 of TSKS, indicating that the N-terminus of human TSKS is phosphorylated by human TSSK2. Production of full-length enzymatically active recombinant TSSK2 kinase represents the achievement of a key benchmark for future discovery of TSSK inhibitors as male contraceptive agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-96
Number of pages9
JournalProtein Expression and Purification
StatePublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1 This work was funded by NIH–1U01 HD060491, 1U01HD076542 and the contract HHSN275201300017C from the Contraceptive Development Branch of NICHD and by Schering AG, Berlin.


  • Male contraceptive drug targets
  • Mobility shift assay
  • Recombinant kinases
  • TSKS
  • TSSK2


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