Gatekeeper mutations activate FGF receptor tyrosine kinases by destabilizing the autoinhibited state

Alida Besch, William M. Marsiglia, Moosa Mohammadi, Yingkai Zhang, Nathaniel J. Traaseth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many types of human cancers are being treated with small molecule ATP-competitive inhibitors targeting the kinase domain of receptor tyrosine kinases. Despite initial successful remission, long-term treatment almost inevitably leads to the emergence of drug resistance mutations at the gatekeeper residue hindering the access of the inhibitor to a hydrophobic pocket at the back of the ATP-binding cleft. In addition to reducing drug efficacy, gatekeeper mutations elevate the intrinsic activity of the tyrosine kinase domain leading to more aggressive types of cancer. However, the mechanism of gain-of-function by gatekeeper mutations is poorly understood. Here, we characterized fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) tyrosine kinases harboring two distinct gatekeeper mutations using kinase activity assays, NMR spectroscopy, bioinformatic analyses, and MD simulations. Our data show that gatekeeper mutations destabilize the autoinhibitory conformation of the DFG motif locally and of the kinase globally, suggesting they impart gain-of-function by facilitating the kinase's ability to populate the active state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2213090120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 21 2023


  • NMR spectroscopy
  • molecular dynamics
  • receptor tyrosine kinases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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