Protein tyrosine kinases are key enzymes of mammalian signal transduction. Substrate specificity is a fundamental property that determines the specificity and fidelity of signaling by protein tyrosine kinases. However, how protein tyrosine kinases recognize the protein substrates is not well understood. C-terminal Src kinase (Csk) specifically phosphorylates Src family kinases on a C-terminal Tyr residue, which down-regulates their activities. We have previously determined that Csk recognizes Src using a substrate-docking site away from the active site. In the current study, we identified the docking determinants in Src recognized by the Csk substrate-docking site and demonstrated an interaction between the docking determinants of Src and the Csk substrate-docking site for this recognition. A similar mechanism was confirmed for Csk recognition of another Src family kinase, Yes. Although both Csk and MAP kinases used docking sites for substrate recognition, their docking sites consisted of different substructures in the catalytic domain. These results helped establish a docking-based substrate recognition mechanism for Csk. This model may provide a framework for understanding substrate recognition and specificity of other protein tyrosine kinases.
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