Allosteric Communication across the Native and Mutated KIT Receptor Tyrosine Kinase
A fundamental goal in cellular signaling is to understand allosteric communication, the process by which signals originated at one site in a protein propagate dependably to affect remote functional sites. Here, we describe the allosteric regulation of the receptor tyrosine kinase KIT. Our analysis evidenced that communication routes established between the activation loop (A-loop) and the distant juxtamembrane region (JMR) in the native protein were disrupted by the oncogenic mutation D816V positioned in the A-loop. In silico mutagenesis provided a plausible way of restoring the protein communication detected in the native KIT by introducing a counter-balancing second mutation D792E. The communication patterns observed in the native and mutated KIT correlate perfectly with the structural and dynamical features of these proteins. Particularly, a long-distance effect of the D816V mutation manifested as an important structural re-organization of the JMR in the oncogenic mutant was completely vanished in the double mutant D816V/D792E. This detailed characterization of the allosteric communication in the different forms of KIT, native and mutants, was performed by using a modular network representation composed of communication pathways and independent dynamic segments. Such representation permits to enrich a purely mechanistic interaction-based model of protein communication by the introduction of concerted local atomic fluctuations. This method, validated on KIT receptor, may guide a rational modulation of the physiopathological activities of other receptor tyrosine kinases. The majority of functionally important biological processes are regulated by allosteric communication within individual proteins and across protein complexes. Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) control signal transduction pathways and consequently represent a typical paradigm. The mutation-induced deregulation of RTK activity impairs crucial cellular physiological functions and causes serious human diseases. The present study focuses on the allosteric communication across the three-dimensional structure of the RTK KIT cytoplasmic region. Combining a mechanistic model of information transmission with the analysis of concerted local atomic fluctuations we examined and compared the communication profiles in the native and D816V-mutated proteins. This approach permitted to localize and visualize communication routes in the native KIT and revealed that these routes were disrupted in the mutant D816V. We proposed in silico mutagenesis as a mean to restore the communication detected in the native KIT. Our work sheds light on the allosteric communication in RTKs, a phenomenon playing an essential role in signaling pathways albeit experiments do not provide the atomic details of the path followed in going from one structural element to the other. A rational understanding of the molecular determinants underlying the effects of disease-related kinase mutations may contribute to the improvement of targeted therapies.