Exploiting the unique ATP-binding pocket of toxoplasma calcium-dependent protein kinase 1 to identify its substrates

Sebastian Lourido, Grace R. Jeschke, Benjamin E. Turk, L. David Sibley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Apicomplexan parasites rely on calcium as a second messenger to regulate a variety of essential cellular processes. Calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPK), which transduce these signals, are conserved among apicomplexans but absent from mammalian hosts, making them attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. Despite their importance, the signaling pathways CDPK regulate remain poorly characterized, and their protein substrates are completely unknown. In Toxoplasma gondii, CDPK1 is required for calcium-regulated secretion from micronemes, thereby controlling motility, invasion, and egress from host cells. CDPK1 is unique among parasite and mammalian kinases in containing glycine at the key "gatekeeper" residue, which results in an expanded ATP-binding pocket. In the present study, we use a synthetic ATPγS analogue that displays steric complementarity to the ATP-binding pocket and hence allows identification of protein substrates based on selective thiophosphorylation. The specificity of this approach was validated by the concordance between the identified phosphorylation sites and the in vitro substrate preference of CDPK1. We further demonstrate that the phosphorylation of predicted substrates is dependent on CDPK1 both in vivo and in vitro. This combined strategy for identifying the targets of specific protein kinases provides a platform for defining the roles of CDPKs in apicomplexans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1155-1162
Number of pages8
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 21 2013


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