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Keywords:

  • allosteric;
  • cancer;
  • diabetes;
  • fragment screening;
  • NMR;
  • PDK1

Aberrant activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase pathway because of genetic mutations of essential signalling proteins has been associated with human diseases including cancer and diabetes. The pivotal role of 3-phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 in the PI3K signalling cascade has made it an attractive target for therapeutic intervention. The N-terminal lobe of the 3-phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 catalytic domain contains a docking site which recognizes the non-catalytic C-terminal hydrophobic motifs of certain substrate kinases. The binding of substrate in this so-called PDK1 Interacting Fragment pocket allows interaction with 3-phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 and enhanced phosphorylation of downstream kinases. NMR spectroscopy was used to a screen 3-phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 domain construct against a library of chemically diverse fragments in order to identify small, ligand-efficient fragments that might interact at either the ATP site or the allosteric PDK1 Interacting Fragment pocket. While majority of the fragment hits were determined to be ATP-site binders, several fragments appeared to interact with the PDK1 Interacting Fragment pocket. Ligand-induced changes in 1H-15N TROSY spectra acquired using uniformly 15N-enriched PDK1 provided evidence to distinguish ATP-site from PDK1 Interacting Fragment-site binding. Caliper assay data and 19F NMR assay data on the PDK1 Interacting Fragment pocket fragments and structurally related compounds identified them as potential allosteric activators of PDK1 function.