Detailed conformational dynamics of juxtamembrane region and activation loop in c-Kit kinase activation process

Jun Zou, Yi Dong Wang, Fan Xin Ma, Ming Li Xiang, Bing Shi, Yu Quan Wei, Sheng Yong Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The stem cell factor receptor (c-Kit) plays critical roles in initiating cell growth and proliferation. Its kinase functional abnormity has been thought to associate with several human cancers. The regulation of c-Kit kinase activity is achieved by phosphorylation on the residues Tyr568 and Tyr570 within juxtamembrane region (JMR) and subsequent structural transition of JMR and activation loop (A-loop). However, the detailed conformational dynamics of JMR and A-loop are far from clear, especially whether their conformational changes are coupled or not during the kinase activation transition. In this investigation, the complete conformational transition pathway was determined using a series of nanosecond conventional molecular dynamics (MD) and targeted molecular dynamics (TMD) simulations in explicit water systems. The results of the MD simulations show that the phosphorylation of residues Tyr568 and Tyr570 within JMR induces the detachment of JMR from the kinase C-lobe and increases the fluctuation in the structure of JMR, thus appearing to initiate the kinase activation process. During the course of the TMD simulation, which characterizes the conformational transition of c-Kit from autoinhibitory to activated state, the JMR undergoes a rapid departure from the allosteric binding site and drifts into solvent, followed by the conformational flip of A-loop from inactive (fold) state to active (extended) state. A change in the orientation of helix αC in response to the motion of JMR and A-loop has also been observed. The computational results presented here indicate that the dissociation of JMR from the kinase domain is prerequisite to c-Kit activation, which is consistent with previous experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-332
Number of pages10
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • A-loop
  • JMR
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Receptor tyrosine kinase
  • Stem cell factor receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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