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      Structural and Functional Diversity of the Microbial Kinome


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          The eukaryotic protein kinase (ePK) domain mediates the majority of signaling and coordination of complex events in eukaryotes. By contrast, most bacterial signaling is thought to occur through structurally unrelated histidine kinases, though some ePK-like kinases (ELKs) and small molecule kinases are known in bacteria. Our analysis of the Global Ocean Sampling (GOS) dataset reveals that ELKs are as prevalent as histidine kinases and may play an equally important role in prokaryotic behavior. By combining GOS and public databases, we show that the ePK is just one subset of a diverse superfamily of enzymes built on a common protein kinase–like (PKL) fold. We explored this huge phylogenetic and functional space to cast light on the ancient evolution of this superfamily, its mechanistic core, and the structural basis for its observed diversity. We cataloged 27,677 ePKs and 18,699 ELKs, and classified them into 20 highly distinct families whose known members suggest regulatory functions. GOS data more than tripled the count of ELK sequences and enabled the discovery of novel families and classification and analysis of all ELKs. Comparison between and within families revealed ten key residues that are highly conserved across families. However, all but one of the ten residues has been eliminated in one family or another, indicating great functional plasticity. We show that loss of a catalytic lysine in two families is compensated by distinct mechanisms both involving other key motifs. This diverse superfamily serves as a model for further structural and functional analysis of enzyme evolution.

          Author Summary

          The huge growth in sequence databases allows the characterization of every protein sequence by comparison with its relatives. Sequence comparisons can reveal both the key conserved functional motifs that define protein families and the variations specific to individual subfamilies, thus decorating any protein sequence with its evolutionary context. Inspired by the massive sequence trove from the Global Ocean Survey project, the authors looked in depth at the protein kinase–like (PKL) superfamily. Eukaryotic protein kinases (ePKs) are the pre-eminent controllers of eukaryotic cell biology and among the best studied of enzymes. By contrast, their prokaryotic relatives are much more poorly known. The authors hoped to both characterize and better understand these prokaryotic enzymes, and also, by contrast, provide insight into the core mechanisms of the eukaryotic protein kinases. The authors used remote homology methods, and bootstrapped on their discoveries to detect more than 45,000 PKL sequences. These clustered into 20 major families, of which the ePKs were just one. Ten residues are conserved between these families: 6 were known to be important in catalysis, but four more—including three highly conserved in ePKs—are still poorly understood, despite their ancient conservation. Extensive family-specific features were found, including the surprising loss of all but one of the ten key residues in one family or another. The authors explored some of these losses and found several cases in which changes in one key motif substitute for changes in another, demonstrating the plasticity of these sequences. Similar approaches can be used to better understand any other family of protein sequences.


          Over 45,000 kinases, including 16,000 identified in the GOS expedition, were classified into 20 distinct families. This massive sequence comparison revealed a structural flexibility within eukaryotic protein kinases that helps explain their huge expansion in eukaryotes.

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          Most cited references 59

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          The protein kinase complement of the human genome.

           G. Manning (2002)
          We have catalogued the protein kinase complement of the human genome (the "kinome") using public and proprietary genomic, complementary DNA, and expressed sequence tag (EST) sequences. This provides a starting point for comprehensive analysis of protein phosphorylation in normal and disease states, as well as a detailed view of the current state of human genome analysis through a focus on one large gene family. We identify 518 putative protein kinase genes, of which 71 have not previously been reported or described as kinases, and we extend or correct the protein sequences of 56 more kinases. New genes include members of well-studied families as well as previously unidentified families, some of which are conserved in model organisms. Classification and comparison with model organism kinomes identified orthologous groups and highlighted expansions specific to human and other lineages. We also identified 106 protein kinase pseudogenes. Chromosomal mapping revealed several small clusters of kinase genes and revealed that 244 kinases map to disease loci or cancer amplicons.
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            The conformational plasticity of protein kinases.

            Protein kinases operate in a large number of distinct signaling pathways, where the tight regulation of their catalytic activity is crucial to the development and maintenance of eukaryotic organisms. The catalytic domains of different kinases adopt strikingly similar structures when they are active. By contrast, crystal structures of inactive kinases have revealed a remarkable plasticity in the kinase domain that allows the adoption of distinct conformations in response to interactions with specific regulatory domains or proteins.
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              Evolution of protein kinase signaling from yeast to man.

              Protein phosphorylation controls many cellular processes, especially those involved in intercellular communication and coordination of complex functions. To explore the evolution of protein phosphorylation, we compared the protein kinase complements ('kinomes') of budding yeast, worm and fly, with known human kinases. We classify kinases into putative orthologous groups with conserved functions and discuss kinase families and pathways that are unique, expanded or lost in each lineage. Fly and human share several kinase families involved in immunity, neurobiology, cell cycle and morphogenesis that are absent from worm, suggesting that these functions might have evolved after the divergence of nematodes from the main metazoan lineage.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                PLoS Biol
                PLoS Biology
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                March 2007
                13 March 2007
                : 5
                : 3
                [1 ] Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States of America
                [2 ] Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States of America
                [3 ] Razavi-Newman Center for Bioinformatics, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California, United States of America
                [4 ] J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, Maryland, United States of America
                Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Canada
                Author notes
                * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: manning@ 123456salk.edu
                06-PLBI-RA-0837R2 plbi-05-03-24
                Copyright: © 2007 Kannan et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 12
                Research Article
                Cell Biology
                Computational Biology
                Evolutionary Biology
                Genetics and Genomics
                Molecular Biology
                Oceanic Metagenomics
                Custom metadata
                Kannan N, Taylor SS, Zhai Y, Venter JC, Manning G (2007) Structural and functional diversity of the microbial kinome. PLoS Biol 5(3): e17. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050017

                Life sciences


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