Sequence and structure classification of kinases

J Mol Biol. 2002 Jul 19;320(4):855-81. doi: 10.1016/s0022-2836(02)00538-7.


Kinases are a ubiquitous group of enzymes that catalyze the phosphoryl transfer reaction from a phosphate donor (usually ATP) to a receptor substrate. Although all kinases catalyze essentially the same phosphoryl transfer reaction, they display remarkable diversity in their substrate specificity, structure, and the pathways in which they participate. In order to learn the relationship between structural fold and functional specificities in kinases, we have done a comprehensive survey of all available kinase sequences (>17,000) and classified them into 30 distinct families based on sequence similarities. Of these families, 19, covering nearly 98% of all sequences, fall into seven general structural folds for which three-dimensional structures are known. These fold groups include some of the most widespread protein folds, such as Rossmann fold, ferredoxin fold, ribonuclease H fold, and TIM beta/alpha-barrel. On the basis of this classification system, we examined the shared substrate binding and catalytic mechanisms as well as variations of these mechanisms in the same fold groups. Cases of convergent evolution of identical kinase activities occurring in different folds are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Kinases / chemistry
  • Protein Kinases / classification*
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Protein Kinases