Phosphorylation in the activation loop as the finishing touch in c-Kit activation
Receptor tyrosine kinases are a group of transmembrane proteins that transmit signals in response to stimulation by ligands including growth factors and cytokines. They share a common mechanism of activation through receptor dimerization or oligomerization, but subsequent routes to their full activation appear to be various. A recent paper published by DiNitto et al. (Function of activation loop tyrosine phosphorylation in the mechanism of c-Kit autoactivation and its implication in sunitinib resistance. J. Biochem. 2010;147:601–609) analysed a process of c-Kit autoactivation in detail. They revealed that phosphorylation in the activation loop, which is crucial for activation of many types of tyrosine kinases, is dispensable for c-Kit activation. However, the phosphorylation affects the sensitivity of c-Kit to kinase inhibitors, thus representing the finishing touch in c-Kit activation.