Structural Diversity of the Active N-Terminal Kinase Domain of p90 Ribosomal S6 Kinase 2

Margarita Malakhova, Igor Kurinov, Kangdong Liu, Duo Zheng, Igor D'Angelo, Jung Hyun Shim, Valerie Steinman, Ann M. Bode, Zigang Dong

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22 Scopus citations


The p90 ribosomal protein kinase 2 (RSK2) is a highly expressed Ser/Thr kinase activated by growth factors and is involved in cancer cell proliferation and tumor promoter-induced cell transformation. RSK2 possesses two non-identical kinase domains, and the structure of its N-terminal domain (NTD), which is responsible for phosphorylation of a variety of substrates, is unknown. The crystal structure of the NTD RSK2 was determined at 1.8 Å resolution in complex with AMP-PNP. The N-terminal kinase domain adopted a unique active conformation showing a significant structural diversity of the kinase domain compared to other kinases. The NTD RSK2 possesses a three-stranded βB-sheet inserted in the N-terminal lobe, resulting in displacement of the αC-helix and disruption of the Lys-Glu interaction, classifying the kinase conformation as inactive. The purified protein was phosphorylated at Ser227 in the T-activation loop and exhibited in vitro kinase activity. A key characteristic is the appearance of a new contact between Lys216 (βB-sheet) and the β-phosphate of AMP-PNP. Mutation of this lysine to alanine impaired both NTDs in vitro and full length RSK2 ex vivo activity, emphasizing the importance of this interaction. Even though the N-terminal lobe undergoes structural re-arrangement, it possesses an intact hydrophobic groove formed between the αC-helix, the β4-strand, and the βB-sheet junction, which is occupied by the N-terminal tail. The presence of a unique βB-sheet insert in the N-lobe suggests a different type of activation mechanism for RSK2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0008044
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2009


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