The explosion of scientific interest in protein kinase-mediated signaling networks has led to the infusion of new chemical methods and their applications related to the analysis of phosphorylation pathways. We highlight some of these chemical biology approaches across three areas. First, we discuss the development of chemical tools to modulate the activity of protein kinases to explore kinase mechanisms and their contributions to phosphorylation events and cellular processes. Second, we describe chemical techniques developed in the past few years to dissect the structural and functional effects of phosphate modifications at specific sites in proteins. Third, we cover newly developed molecular imaging approaches to elucidate the spatiotemporal aspects of phosphorylation cascades in live cells. Exciting advances in our understanding of protein phosphorylation have been obtained with these chemical biology approaches, but continuing opportunities for technological innovation remain.
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