Aminopyrazine inhibitors binding to an unusual inactive conformation of the mitotic kinase Nek2: SAR and structural characterization

J Med Chem. 2010 Nov 11;53(21):7682-98. doi: 10.1021/jm1008727.


We report herein the first systematic exploration of inhibitors of the mitotic kinase Nek2. Starting from HTS hit aminopyrazine 2, compounds with improved activity were identified using structure-based design. Our structural biology investigations reveal two notable observations. First, 2 and related compounds bind to an unusual, inactive conformation of the kinase which to the best of our knowledge has not been reported for other types of kinase inhibitors. Second, a phenylalanine residue at the center of the ATP pocket strongly affects the ability of the inhibitor to bind to the protein. The implications of these observations are discussed, and the work described here defines key features for potent and selective Nek2 inhibition, which will aid the identification of more advanced inhibitors of Nek2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular*
  • NIMA-Related Kinases
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / chemistry
  • Pyrazines / chemical synthesis*
  • Pyrazines / chemistry
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Pyrazines
  • NEK2 protein, human
  • NIMA-Related Kinases
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases

Associated data

  • PDB/2XK3
  • PDB/2XK4
  • PDB/2XK6
  • PDB/2XK7
  • PDB/2XK8
  • PDB/2XKC
  • PDB/2XKD
  • PDB/2XKF