Product(s) used in this publication: Reference Peptides for Targeted Proteomics - SpikeTides™ & SpikeMix™
Aberrant kinase activity has been linked to a variety of disorders; however, methods to probe kinase activation states in cells have been lacking. Until now, kinase activity has mainly been deduced from either protein expression or substrate phosphorylation levels. Here, we describe a strategy to directly infer kinase activation through targeted quantification of T-loop phosphorylation, which serves as a critical activation switch in a majority of protein kinases. Combining selective phosphopeptide enrichment with robust targeted mass spectrometry, we provide highly specific assays for 248 peptides, covering 221 phosphosites in the T-loop region of 178 human kinases. Using these assays, we monitored the activation of 63 kinases through 73 T-loop phosphosites across different cell types, primary cells, and patient-derived tissue material. The sensitivity of our assays is highlighted by the reproducible detection of TNF-α-induced RIPK1 activation and the detection of 46 T-loop phosphorylation sites from a breast tumor needle biopsy.