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One of the largest multigene families in Metazoa are the tyrosine kinases (TKs). These are important multifunctional proteins that have evolved as dynamic switches that perform tyrosine phosphorylation and other noncatalytic activities regulated by various allosteric mechanisms. TKs interact with each other and with other molecules, ultimately activating and inhibiting different signaling pathways. TKs are implicated in cancer and almost 30 FDA-approved TK inhibitors are available. However, specific binding is a challenge when targeting an active site that has been conserved in multiple protein paralogs for millions of years. A cassette domain (CD) containing SH3–SH2–Tyrosine Kinase domains reoccurs in vertebrate nonreceptor TKs. Although part of the CD function is shared between TKs, it also presents TK specific features. Here, the evolutionary dynamics of sequence, structure, and phosphorylation across the CD in 17 TK paralogs have been investigated in a large-scale study. We establish that TKs often have ortholog-specific structural disorder and phosphorylation patterns, while secondary structure elements, as expected, are highly conserved. Further, domain-specific differences are at play. Notably, we found the catalytic domain to fluctuate more in certain secondary structure elements than the regulatory domains. By elucidating how different properties evolve after gene duplications and which properties are specifically conserved within orthologs, the mechanistic understanding of protein evolution is enriched and regions supposedly critical for functional divergence across paralogs are highlighted.






Originally published in Genome Biology and Evolution.

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