CDK11 is a cyclin-dependent kinase that controls proliferation by regulating transcription, RNA splicing, and the cell cycle. As its activity is increasingly associated with cancer, CDK11 is an attractive target for the development of small-molecule inhibitors. However, the development of CDK11 inhibitors with limited off-target effects against other CDKs poses a challenge based on the high conservation of sequence across family members. OTS964 is notable as it displays a measure of specificity for CDK11 in cells. To understand the basis for OTS964's specificity for CDK11, we solved a 2.6 Å crystal structure of the CDK11 kinase domain bound to OTS964. Despite the absence of cyclin, CDK11 adopts an active-like conformation when bound to OTS964. We identified amino acids likely to contribute to the specificity of OTS964 for CDK11 and assessed their contribution to OTS964 binding by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) in vitro and by resistance to OTS964 in cells.
Keywords: CDK; crystal structure; inhibitor; kinase.
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