Graduate Student First Author on PNAS Paper

By Nick Nobel
June 13, 2023
Three people standing in front of a research poster. One person is giving the Hook 'em Horns hand gesture.

Kimber Long next to her award-winning poster with Dean Sam Poloyac and Associate Dean John Richburg at Research Day 2023.

Kimberly J. Long, a Ph.D. candidate in the Dalby Lab in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry, was a first author of a recent research paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper, titled “ADP enhances the allosteric activation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase by calmodulin,” suggests “a direct energy-sensing role for eEF-2K mediated by ADP whose engagement with the kinase at a unique site leads to enhanced sensitivity toward its allosteric activator, calmodulin.” This effect promotes the activation of eEF-2K when cellular energy reserves are low and ADP levels are enhanced. Activated eEF-2K acts to slow down protein translation, one of the energy-consuming cellular processes, thereby conserving energy.

The paper also earned a poster award at the College of Pharmacy’s Nineteenth Annual Louis C. Littlefield Celebrating Pharmacy Research Excellence Day in the Graduate Program category.

"We were very surprised to find ADP bound in our crystal structure, but it makes so much sense for eEF-2K activation to be sensitive to energy molecules,” Long says. “It has been such a thrill for me to work on this project, and I don't think this serendipitous discovery would have been made without the curiosity and commitment of everyone involved.”

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer-reviewed journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), is an authoritative source of high-impact, original research that broadly spans the biological, physical, and social sciences. The journal is one of the world's most-cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals, publishing more than 3,500 research papers annually.