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The inhibitor peptide DT-2 (YGRKKRRQRRRPPLRKKKKKH) is the most potent and selective inhibitor of the cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG) known today. DT-2 is a construct of a PKG tight binding sequence (W45, LRKKKKKH, KI=0.8 microM) and a membrane translocating sequence (DT-6, YGRKKRRQRRRPP, KI=1.1 microM), that combined strongly inhibits PKG catalyzed phosphorylation (KI=12.5 nM) with approximately 1000-fold selectivity toward PKG over protein kinase A, the closest relative of PKG. However, the molecular mechanism behind this inhibition is not entirely understood. Using a combination of photoaffinity labeling, stable isotope labeling, and mass spectrometry, we have located the binding sites of PKG-specific substrate and inhibitor peptides. Covalent linkage of a PKG-specific substrate analogue was localized in the catalytic core on residues 356-372, also known as the glycine-rich loop, essential for ATP binding. By analogy, the individual inhibitor peptides W45 and DT-6 were also found to cross-link near the glycine-rich loop, suggesting these are both substrate competitive inhibitors. A bifunctional photoreactive analogue of DT-2 was found to generate dimers of PKG. This cross-linking induced covalent PKG dimerization was not observed for an N-terminal deletion mutant of PKG, which lacks the dimerization domain. In addition, non-covalent mass spectrometry was used to determine binding stoichiometry and binding order of the inhibitor peptides. Dimeric PKG binds two W45 and DT-6 peptides, whereas only one DT-2 molecule was observed to bind to the dimeric PKG. Taken together, these findings imply that (i) the two individual components making up DT-2 are both targeted against the substrate-binding site and (ii) binding of a single DT-2 molecule inactivates both PKG monomers simultaneously, which is an indication that (iii) in cGMP-activated PKG the catalytic centers of both subunits may be in each other's proximity.


Martijn W H Pinkse, Dirk T S Rijkers, Wolfgang R Dostmann, Albert J R Heck. Mode of action of cGMP-dependent protein kinase-specific inhibitors probed by photoaffinity cross-linking mass spectrometry. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2009 Jun 12;284(24):16354-68

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PMID: 19369251

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