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Keywords:

  • BMS-509744;
  • conformational changes;
  • high-throughput protein engineering;
  • IL-2-inducible T cell kinase;
  • kinase inhibitor;
  • sunitinib;
  • X-ray protein crystallography

IL-2-inducible T cell kinase plays an essential role in T cell receptor signaling and is considered a drug target for the treatment of Th2-mediated inflammatory diseases. By applying high-throughput protein engineering and crystallization, we have determined the X-ray crystal structures of IL-2-inducible T cell kinase in complex with its selective inhibitor BMS-509744 and the broad-spectrum kinase inhibitors sunitinib and RO5191614. Sunitinib uniquely stabilizes IL-2-inducible T cell kinase in the helix C-in conformation by inducing side chain conformational changes in the ATP-binding site. This preference of sunitinib to bind to an active kinase conformation is reflective of its broad-spectrum kinase activity. BMS-509744 uniquely stabilizes the activation loop in a substrate-blocking inactive conformation, indicating that structural changes described for Src family kinases are also involved in the regulation of IL-2-inducible T cell kinase activity. The observed BMS-509744 binding mode allows rationalization of structure–activity relationships reported for this inhibitor class and facilitates further structure-based drug design. Sequence-based analysis of this binding mode provides guidance for the rational design of inhibitor selectivity.