The ErbB protein tyrosine kinases are among the most important cell signaling families and mutation-induced modulation of their activity is associated with diverse functions in biological networks and human disease. We have combined molecular dynamics simulations of the ErbB kinases with the protein structure network modeling to characterize the reorganization of the residue interaction networks during conformational equilibrium changes in the normal and oncogenic forms. Structural stability and network analyses have identified local communities integrated around high centrality sites that correspond to the regulatory spine residues. This analysis has provided a quantitative insight to the mechanism of mutation-induced ‘‘superacceptor’’ activity in oncogenic EGFR dimers. We have found that kinase activation may be determined by allosteric interactions between modules of structurally stable residues that synchronize the dynamics in the nucleotide binding site and the aC-helix with the collective motions of the integrating aF-helix and the substrate binding site. The results of this study have pointed to a central role of the conserved His-Arg-Asp (HRD) motif in the catalytic loop and the Asp-Phe-Gly (DFG) motif as key mediators of structural stability and allosteric communications in the ErbB kinases. We have determined that residues that are indispensable for kinase regulation and catalysis often corresponded to the high centrality nodes within the protein structure network and could be distinguished by their unique network signatures. The optimal communication pathways are also controlled by these nodes and may ensure efficient allosteric signaling in the functional kinase state. Structure-based network analysis has quantified subtle effects of ATP binding on conformational dynamics and stability of the EGFR structures. Consistent with the NMR studies, we have found that nucleotide-induced modulation of the residue interaction networks is not limited to the ATP site, and may enhance allosteric cooperativity with the substrate binding region by increasing communication capabilities of mediating residues.
James KA, Verkhivker GM (2014) Structure-Based Network Analysis of Activation Mechanisms in the ErbB Family of Receptor Tyrosine Kinases: The Regulatory Spine Residues Are Global Mediators of Structural Stability and Allosteric Interactions. PLoS ONE 9(11): e113488. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113488
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