Shaping Development of Autophagy Inhibitors with the Structure of the Lipid Kinase Vps34

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  26 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5973, pp. 1638-1642
DOI: 10.1126/science.1184429

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Lipid Kinase Revealed

The lipid kinase, Vps34, makes the key signaling lipid phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate [PI(3)P] and has essential roles in autophagy, membrane trafficking, and cell signaling. It is a class III PI 3-kinase, a class against which there is currently no specific inhibitor. Miller et al. (p. 1638) now describe the crystal structure of Vps34. Modeling substrate binding and combining structural data with mutagenesis suggests a mechanism in which Vps34 is auto-inhibited in solution, but adopts a catalytically active conformation on membranes. Structures of Vps34 with existing inhibitors might allow for the generation of inhibitors with high affinity and specificity.


Phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are lipid kinases with diverse roles in health and disease. The primordial PI3K, Vps34, is present in all eukaryotes and has essential roles in autophagy, membrane trafficking, and cell signaling. We solved the crystal structure of Vps34 at 2.9 angstrom resolution, which revealed a constricted adenine-binding pocket, suggesting the reason that specific inhibitors of this class of PI3K have proven elusive. Both the phosphoinositide-binding loop and the carboxyl-terminal helix of Vps34 mediate catalysis on membranes and suppress futile adenosine triphosphatase cycles. Vps34 appears to alternate between a closed cytosolic form and an open form on the membrane. Structures of Vps34 complexes with a series of inhibitors reveal the reason that an autophagy inhibitor preferentially inhibits Vps34 and underpin the development of new potent and specific Vps34 inhibitors.

View Full Text