Viral cyclin-dependent kinases (v-Cdks) functionally emulate their cellular Cdk counterparts. Such viral mimicry is an established phenomenon that we extend here through chemical genetics. Kinases contain gatekeeper residues that limit the size of molecules that can be accommodated within the enzyme active site. Mutating gatekeeper residues to smaller amino acids allows larger molecules access to the active site. Such mutants can utilize bio-orthoganol ATPs for phosphate transfer and are inhibited by compounds ineffective against the wild type protein, and thus are referred to as analog-sensitive (AS) kinases. We identified the gatekeeper residues of the v-Cdks encoded by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and mutated them to generate AS kinases. The AS-v-Cdks are functional and utilize different ATP derivatives with a specificity closely matching their cellular ortholog, AS-Cdk2. The AS derivative of the EBV v-Cdk was used to transfer a thiolated phosphate group to targeted proteins which were then purified through covalent capture and identified by mass spectrometry. Pathway analysis of these newly identified direct substrates of the EBV v-Cdk extends the potential influence of this kinase into all stages of gene expression (transcription, splicing, mRNA export, and translation). Our work demonstrates the biochemical similarity of the cellular and viral Cdks, as well as the utility of AS v-Cdks for substrate identification to increase our understanding of both viral infections and Cdk biology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine