C-terminal Src kinase (CSK) and CSK-homologous kinase (CHK)--endogenous negative regulators of Src-family protein kinases.
C-terminal Src kinase (CSK) and CSK-homologous kinase (CHK) are endogenous inhibitors of the Src-family protein tyrosine kinases (SFKs). Since constitutive activation of SFKs contributes to cancer formation and progression, to prevent excessive activation of SFKs, their activity in normal cells is kept at the basal level by CSK and CHK. CSK and CHK inactivate SFKs by specifically phosphorylating a consensus tyrosine (called Y(T)) near their C-termini. Upon phosphorylation, the phospho-Y(T) engages in intramolecular interactions that lock the SFK molecule in an inactive conformation. SFKs are anchored to the plasma membrane, while CSK and CHK are localized predominantly in the cytosol. To inhibit SFKs, CSK and CHK need to translocate to the plasma membrane. Recruitment of CSK and CHK to the plasma membrane is mediated by the binding of their SH2, SH3 and/or kinase domains to specific transmembrane proteins, G-proteins and adaptor proteins located near the plasma membrane. For CSK, membrane recruitment often accompanies activation. CSK and CHK employ two types of direct interactions with SFKs to achieve efficient Y(T) phosphorylation: (i) short-range interactions involving binding of the active sites of CSK and CHK to specific residues near Y(T), (ii) long-range non-catalytic interactions involving binding of SFKs to motifs located distally from the active sites of CSK and CHK. The interactions between CSK and SFKs are transient in nature. Unlike CSK, CHK binds tightly to SFKs to form stable protein complexes. The binding is non-catalytic as it is independent of Y(T). More importantly, the tight binding alone is sufficient to completely inhibit SFKs. This non-catalytic inhibitory binding represents a novel mechanism employed by CHK to inhibit SFKs. Given that SFKs are implicated in cancer development, compounds mimicking the non-catalytic inhibitory mechanism of CHK are potential anti-cancer therapeutics.