Lessons from LIMK1 enzymology and their impact on inhibitor design.
Salah E., Chatterjee D., Beltrami A., Tumber A., Preuss F., Canning P., Chaikuad A., Knaus P., Knapp S., Bullock AN., Mathea S.
LIM domain kinase 1 (LIMK1) is a key regulator of actin dynamics. It is thereby a potential therapeutic target for the prevention of fragile X syndrome and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Herein, we use X-ray crystallography and activity assays to describe how LIMK1 accomplishes substrate specificity, to suggest a unique 'rock-and-poke' mechanism of catalysis and to explore the regulation of the kinase by activation loop phosphorylation. Based on these findings, a differential scanning fluorimetry assay and a RapidFire mass spectrometry activity assay were established, leading to the discovery and confirmation of a set of small-molecule LIMK1 inhibitors. Interestingly, several of the inhibitors were inactive towards the closely related isoform LIMK2. Finally, crystal structures of the LIMK1 kinase domain in complex with inhibitors (PF-477736 and staurosporine, respectively) are presented, providing insights into LIMK1 plasticity upon inhibitor binding.