Chembiochem. 2020 Oct 28. doi: 10.1002/cbic.202000677. Online ahead of print.
CDK6 kinase regulates cell cycle progression in G1, together with CDK4, but has cell-, tissue- and developmentally-distinct functions associated with transcription, angiogenesis and metabolism. Although CDK6 constitutes an attractive cancer biomarker and target there are no means of assessing its activity in a complex environment. In this study we describe design, engineering and characterization of a fluorescent peptide biosensor derived from 6-phosphofructokinase that reports on CDK6 kinase
activity through sensitive changes in fluorescence intensity. This biosensor can report on CDK6 activity in a dose-dependent fashion, thereby enabling quantification of differences in kinase activity in complex and physiologically-relevant environments. Further implementation of this biosensor in different lung and melanoma cell lines, as well as in mesothelioma cell lines derived from patients together with a CDK4 biosensor highlighted differences in kinase activity between CDK6 and CDK4 kinase. This work demonstrates the utility of these selective tools for monitoring two closely related kinases comparatively and simultaneously in the same samples, thereby offering attractive perspectives for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.