Current structural understanding of kinases is largely based on x-ray crystallographic studies, whereas very little data exist on the conformations and dynamics that kinases adopt in the solution state. ABL kinase is an important drug target in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Here, we present the first characterization of ABL kinase in complex with three clinical inhibitors (imatinib, nilotinib, and dasatinib) by modern solution NMR techniques. Structural and dynamical results were derived from complete backbone resonance assignments, experimental residual dipolar couplings, and (15)N relaxation data. Residual dipolar coupling data on the imatinib and nilotinib complexes show that the activation loop adopts the inactive conformation, whereas the dasatinib complex preserves the active conformation, which does not support contrary predictions based upon molecular modeling. Nanosecond as well as microsecond dynamics can be detected for certain residues in the activation loop in the inactive and active conformation complexes.
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