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NanoBRET™ Target Engagement Intracellular Kinase Assays

The NanoBRET™ Target Engagement (TE) Intracellular Kinase Assays provide a way to quantitatively measure specific kinase-inhibitor interactions in live cells using Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET). The assay measures the apparent cellular affinity of test compounds bound by competitive displacement of a cell-permeable fluorescent NanoBRET™ tracer, reversibly bound to a kinase-NanoLuc® luciferase fusion in cells.

  • Measure Kinase Target Engagement in Live Cells: Quantify compound affinity & fractional occupancy for multiple types of kinase inhibitors (I-IV).
  • Assays for over 340 Kinases: Ready-to-use assays span the kinome, readily enabling selectivity analysis. Data for each kinase is provided.
  • Use Full-Length Kinase: Assays use full-length wild-type kinases. Select mutant kinase or domain-specific kinase assays are available.
  • Multi-Well Plate Format: Simple assay method that's scalable from 96-well to 384-well or beyond.
  • Assess Residence Time: Determine duration of test compound binding to target kinase in live cells.

Assays available for over 340+ kinases

See All Available Kinases

How It Works

A Kinase-NanoLuc® fusion vector is introduced by transfection into mammalian cells and allowed to express. As NanoLuc® luciferase is extremely bright, only low expression of the kinase-NanoLuc® fusion protein is needed.

In the NanoBRET® TE Kinase Assay, a cell-permeable fluorescent NanoBRET™ tracer, a NanoLuc® substrate, and the Extracellular NanoLuc® Inhibitor are supplied. Addition of these to cells expressing the kinase-NanoLuc® fusion allows a strong BRET signal to be achieved between the kinase-NanoLuc® protein and NanoBRET™ tracer. The extracellular NanoLuc® inhibitor ensures that the BRET signal achieved is from live, uncompromised cells.

The presence of unlabled test compound that binds to target kinase results in a loss of BRET signal. As BRET has tight distance constraints, the data obtained is specific for the kinase fused to NanoLuc® luciferase. In addition, the data results in a quantitative intracellular affinity provided the appropriate tracer concentration is used.

NanoBRET TE Kinase Assay enables measurements of kinase inhibitor affinity

What You Need

 NanoBRET TE Intracellular Kinase Assay requires kinase-NanoLuc fusion vector and cells supplied by user

Promega supplies the individual Kinase-NanoLuc® fusion vector and the appropriate NanoBRET™ TE Kinase Assay. For a given kinase, the recommended NanoBRET™ TE Kinase assay and application note can be found in the Kinase Target Engagement Selection Table. You will need to supply the cells and cell culture reagents.

The tracers and substrate/inhibitor combinations are also available as standalone products.

Show me the assays



Measuring affinity of different kinase inhibitor types

Measuring Affinity of Different Kinase Inhibitor Types. NanoBRET™ kinase tracers are based on ATP-competitive kinase inhibitors. Using NanoBRET™ TE Kinase Assays, compounds that compete with the ATP binding site (Type I & II) as well as those that modulate the structure of the ATP site via allosteric sites (Type III & IV) have been measured. Top panels show characterization of Type I & II inhibitors at BTK and MET. Bottom panels show characterization of Type I, II, and allosteric (III or IV) inhibitors at Abl and RIPK1 kinases.


Measuring kinase inhibitor potency

NanoBRET™ Target Engagement can be used to compare inhibitor affinity for wild-type (WT) and mutant kinases. NanoBRET™ TE Intracellular Kinase Assay K-10 was used for JAK and JAK(V617F), which is a clinically acquired mutation found in myeloproliferative cancers. Panel A: Engagement of Type I ATP competitive inhibitors against JAK2(V617F). Panel B: Target engagement potency was stronger for Type I inhibitor ruxolitinib with JAK2(V617F) versus JAK2 wild-type. Panel C: This differed from the finding with the Type II inhibitor CHZ-868, which had similar affinity for both JAK2(V617F) mutant and JAK2 wild-type kinases.


Comparing kinase inhibitor affinity in wild-type and mutant kinases

NanoBRET™ Target Engagement Data can Correlate with Cellular Functional Potency.
Panel A:
Cellular affinities of the multi-kinase inhibitor Crizotinib for a panel of full-length kinases in live cells were obtained using NanoBRET™ TE Kinase assays. MET and ALK kinases have been found to be the primary targets of Crizotinib. Panel B: These Crizotinib apparent affinities were used to create a correlation plot using published cellular phospho-ELISA potencies for these same kinases. The results indicate that NanoBRET™ TE data can correlate well with cellular functional assay data such as phospho-ELISA. NanoBRET™ TE Kinase inhibitor affinities can be predictive of inhibition observed with lower throughput cellular potency assays. For additional study details, see Vasta et al. Cell Chemical Biology, 2018 (linked below).

Residence Time

Kinase inhibitor residence time evaluated in a simple format

Intracellular residence time can be evaluated in a simple format, wherein unmodified compound is added prior to tracer addition. After compound washout, the tracer is added and residence time is quantified in live cells.

Equilibrium binding of kinase inhibitors may not always correlate with binding kinetics

Equilibrium (steady-state) binding may not always correlate with binding kinetics. The first-generation chronic myelogenous leukemia drug Imatinib shows weaker affinity (Panel A) and shorter residence time (Panel B) at Abl, compared to second and third generation drugs (Dasatinib and Ponatinib). The third-generation inhibitor Ponatinib displays similar affinity to the second-generation inhibitor Dasatinib (Panel A), but much more durable binding or longer residence time following washout in live cells (Panel B).


What cell types can I use for a NanoBRET™ TE Kinase Assay?

The technical manuals for the NanoBRET™ TE Intracellular Kinase Assays (#TM598 and #TM603) utilize HEK293 cells. However, other cell types have been used, such as HeLa and U2OS. If cell types different from HEK293 are used, it's recommended that the transfection conditions to introduce the kinase-NanoLuc® fusion vector are optimized.

What is the difference between the ADH and NBS assay formats?

The new adherent (ADH) assay format is more efficient for the user compared to the original non-binding surface (NBS) format. The ADH format involves the use of adhered cells in a tissue culture-treated plate.

The NBS format requires that cells are transfected in plates or dishes the day prior to addition to the assay plate. On the day of the assay, the cells are harvested and seeded in non-binding surface assay plates prior to running the assay. Nonbinding surface plates are ideal for certain tracers with suboptimal properties that prevent their use in conventional polystyrene assay plates.

The ADH format uses tissue culture treated plates and allows the user to transfect the kinase-NanoLuc® fusion vector in the assay plate. The harvesting and seeding step is not needed with the ADH format, as the cells are transfected and seeded in the assay plate the day before.

Where can I find representative NanoBRET™ TE data for my kinase of interest?

All available kinases and kinase complexes are listed here with links to application notes and data. If the kinase has also been tested in the NBS format, then a separate application note link is provided in the table. Application notes are also available on the product pages for each individual kinase-NanoLuc® fusion vector.

For each kinase, there is one recommended assay/tracer, as it provides the largest assay window. However, several kinases have additional application notes that use alternate assays. Additional data beyond the recommended assay is available on the kinase-NanoLuc® fusion vector product page when available.

Depending on your needs, having an assay with the largest window may be advantageous, so the recommended assay would be the one to select. In other cases, it may be preferable to work with the same assay/tracer for multiple kinases. In this case, the recommended assay may not be the same for each kinase studied. Please refer to #TM598 or #TM603 for guidelines on assay window and assay capabilities.

If my kinase isn't listed in the Kinase Target Engagement Assay Selection Table, what are the options for building a NanoBRET™ TE assay for it?

Additional kinase-NanoLuc® fusion vectors and NanoBRET™ TE Kinase Assays have been developed and are available through our Custom Assay Service. If an assay has not been developed for the kinase, the custom team could develop one for you or guide you to develop your own assay. A resource for developing NanoBRET™ TE assays is also available in this Methods in Molecular Biology chapter. Please inquire here.

Looking for something different?

  • What other NanoBRET™ TE kinase assays are available?
  • What reagents and tools can Promega provide?
  • Can Promega develop a custom assay for me?
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