Original Article

A novel allosteric site in casein kinase 2α discovered using combining bioinformatics and biochemistry methods

Hai-ming JIANG1, Jiang-kai DONG2, Kun SONG1, Tong-dan WANG1, Wen-kang HUANG1, Jing-miao ZHANG1, Xiu-yan YANG1, Ying SHEN2, Jian ZHANG1
1 Department of Pathophysiology, Key Laboratory of Cell Differentiation and Apoptosis of Ministry of Education, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Tumor Microenvironment and Inflammation, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200025, China
2 Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200025, China
Correspondence to: Xiu-yan YANG: shanshiyan@126.com, Jian ZHANG: jian.zhang@sjtu.edu.cn,
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2017.55
Received: 18 January 2017
Accepted: 7 April 2017
Advance online: 27 July 2017


Casein kinase 2 (CK2) is a highly pleiotropic serine-threonine kinase, which catalyzed phosphorylation of more than 300 proteins that are implicated in regulation of many cellular functions, such as signal transduction, transcriptional control, apoptosis and the cell cycle. On the other hand, CK2 is abnormally elevated in a variety of tumors, and is considered as a promising therapeutic target. The currently available ATP-competitive CK2 inhibitors, however, lack selectivity, which has impeded their development in cancer therapy. Because allosteric inhibitors can avoid the shortcomings of conventional kinase inhibitors, this study was aimed to discover a new allosteric site in CK2α and to investigate the effects of mutations in this site on the activity of CK2α. Using Allosite based on protein dynamics and structural alignment, we predicted a new allosteric site that was partly located in the αC helix of CK2α. Five residues exposed on the surface of this site were mutated to validate the prediction. Kinetic analyses were performed using a luminescent ADP detection assay by varying the concentrations of a peptide substrate, and the results showed that the mutations I78C and I78W decreased CK2α activity, whereas V31R, K75E, I82C and P109C increased CK2α activity. Potential allosteric pathways were identified using the Monte Carlo path generation approach, and the results of these predicted allosteric pathways were consistent with the mutation analysis. Multiple sequence alignments of CK2α with the other kinases in the family were conducted using the ClustalX method, which revealed the diversity of the residues in the site. In conclusion, we identified a new allosteric site in CK2α that can be altered to modulate the activity of the kinase. Because of the high diversity of the residues in the site, the site can be targeted using rational drug design of specific CK2α inhibitors for biological relevance.
Keywords: CK2α; allosteric site; mutation; allosteric pathway

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