Research ArticleBiochemistry

An ATP-Site On-Off Switch That Restricts Phosphatase Accessibility of Akt

Science Signaling  08 May 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 223, pp. ra37
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002618

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The protein serine-threonine kinase Akt undergoes a substantial conformational change upon activation, which is induced by the phosphorylation of two critical regulatory residues, threonine 308 and serine 473. Paradoxically, treating cells with adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP)–competitive inhibitors of Akt results in increased phosphorylation of both residues. We show that binding of ATP-competitive inhibitors stabilized a conformation in which both phosphorylated sites were inaccessible to phosphatases. ATP binding also produced this protection of the phosphorylated sites, whereas interaction with its hydrolysis product adenosine 5′-diphosphate (ADP) or allosteric Akt inhibitors resulted in increased accessibility of these phosphorylated residues. ATP-competitive inhibitors mimicked ATP by targeting active Akt. Forms of Akt activated by an oncogenic mutation or myristoylation were more potently inhibited by the ATP-competitive inhibitors than was wild-type Akt. These data support a new model of kinase regulation, wherein nucleotides modulate an on-off switch in Akt through conformational changes, which is disrupted by ATP-competitive inhibitors.

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