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A Dimerization Function in the Intrinsically Disordered N-Terminal Region of Src


The mode of regulation of Src kinases has been elucidated by crystallographic studies identifying conserved structured protein modules involved in an orderly set of intramolecular associations and ligand interactions. Despite these detailed insights, much of the complex behavior and diversity in the Src family remains unexplained. A key missing piece is the function of the unstructured N-terminal region. We report here the function of the N-terminal region in binding within a hydrophobic pocket in the kinase domain of a dimerization partner. Dimerization substantially enhances autophosphorylation and phosphorylation of selected substrates, and interfering with dimerization is disruptive to these functions. Dimerization and Y419 phosphorylation are codependent events creating a bistable switch. Given the versatility inherent in this intrinsically disordered region, its multisite phosphorylations, and its divergence within the family, the unique domain likely functions as a central signaling hub overseeing much of the activities and unique functions of Src family kinases.

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