Dimerization-induced activation of soluble insulin/IGF-1 receptor kinases: an alternative mechanism of activation.

PMID 11714281


To study the role of kinase dimerization in the activation of the insulin receptor (IR) and the insulin-like growth factor receptor-1 (IGF-1R), we have cloned, expressed, and purified monomeric and dimeric forms of the corresponding soluble kinase domains via the baculovirus expression system. Dimerization of the kinases was achieved by fusion of the kinase domains to the homodimeric glutathione S-transferase (GST). Kinetic analyses revealed that kinase dimerization results in substantial increases (10-100-fold) in the phosphotransferase activity in both the auto- and substrate phosphorylation reactions. Furthermore, kinase dimerization rendered the autophosphorylation reaction concentration-independent. However, whereas dimerization was required for the rapid autophosphorylation of the kinases, it was not essential for the enhanced kinase activity in substrate phosphorylation reactions. Comparison of HPLC-phosphopeptide maps of the monomeric and dimeric kinases revealed that dimerization leads to an increased phosphorylation of the regulatory activation loop of the kinases, strongly suggesting that bis- and trisphosphorylation of the activation loop are mediated by transphosphorylation within the kinase dimers. Most strikingly, limited proteolysis revealed that GST-mediated dimerization by itself had a major impact on the conformation of the activation loop by stabilizing a conformation that corresponds to the active, phosphorylated form of the kinase. Thus, in analogy to the insulin/IGF-1-ligated holoreceptors, the dimeric GST-kinases are primed to rapid autophosphorylation by an increase in the local concentration of both phosphoryl donor and phosphoryl acceptor sites and by a dimerization-induced conformational change of the activation loop that leads to an efficient transphosphorylation of the regulatory tyrosine residues.

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