Tyrosine kinases of the Src-family are large allosteric enzymes that play a key role in cellular signaling. Conversion of the kinase from an inactive to an active state is accompanied by substantial structural changes. Here, we construct a coarse-grained model of the catalytic domain incorporating experimental structures for the two stable states, and simulate the dynamics of conformational transitions in kinase activation. We explore the transition energy landscapes by constructing a structural network among clusters of conformations from the simulations. From the structural network, two major ensembles of pathways for the activation are identified. In the first transition pathway, we find a coordinated switching mechanism of interactions among the alphaC helix, the activation-loop, and the beta strands in the N-lobe of the catalytic domain. In a second pathway, the conformational change is coupled to a partial unfolding of the N-lobe region of the catalytic domain. We also characterize the switching mechanism for the alphaC helix and the activation-loop in detail. Finally, we test the performance of a Markov model and its ability to account for the structural kinetics in the context of Src conformational changes. Taken together, these results provide a broad framework for understanding the main features of the conformational transition taking place upon Src activation.
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