Drug design: Clues for drugging a ‘undruggable’


Until recently, transcription factors have been deliberate ‘undruggable’ since they miss catalytic active sites for drugs to bind. But in 2014, thalidomide and a analogs — vicious treatments for mixed myeloma and other blood cancers — were found to inactivate transcription factors regulating a formerly opposite mode of action. These drugs did not stop a duty of their aim proteins, though instead recruited them to an E3 ubiquitin ligase, that flags proteins as rubbish causing their dismissal by a rubbish ordering complement of a cell.

In their new study, published in Science, Thomä’s and Ebert’s teams have explored either other transcription factors could be degraded by a identical mechanism. Their formula uncover that modifications to thalidomide outcome in plunge of opposite zinc finger transcription factors — a initial step towards conceptualizing destiny drugs.


In their new study, a researchers traced this new mode of movement to one vicious zinc finger in a degraded transcription factors. A zinc finger is a tiny protein domain hold together by a zinc ion; zinc finger domains typically act as communication modules to connect DNA, RNA or other proteins. More than 800 zinc finger containing proteins — that together contain over 6,500 particular zinc finger domains — exist in humans, creation adult a biggest category of putative transcription factors.

Having found that a singular zinc finger domain was sufficient to make a specific transcription cause receptive to drug-mediated degradation, a researchers investigated either other such examples existed. By formulating a library of all famous zinc finger domains from humans and joining them to a fluorescent protein fortitude marker, a researchers identified a sum of 11 zinc finger motifs that led to plunge in cells. “11 out of 6,500 zinc fingers was a good start,” explains Georg Petzold, a postdoc in a Thomä lab and one of a dual initial authors of a study, “but protein plunge is a multi-step routine and recruitment to a E3 ubiquitin ligase does not indispensably lead to degradation.”

So a researchers examined a step preceding zinc finger plunge — recruitment to a CRL4-CRBN ubiquitin ligase — and identified another 150 additional zinc fingers that connect a ligase in vitro. “Although these zinc fingers were not degraded in cells, these formula were sparkling since they extended a series of intensity targets to many some-more than usually a initial 11,” explains Nicolas Thomä.


Surprisingly, their constructional research suggested that specificity between a drug and a zinc finger could count on as small as one amino poison that shaped a side sequence hit with a drug, presenting an event to pattern drugs that could aim opposite zinc fingers. To exam this hypothesis, a researchers steady a mobile shade with dual some-more new thalidomide derivatives and found that these opposite drugs degraded graphic sets of zinc fingers.

“We not usually identified new thalidomide analog targets, though also showed that it competence be probable to emanate compounds that selectively reduce certain zinc fingers,” says Petzold. “The zinc finger library screens are good schemes to shade for such compounds; there is a lot of intensity for drug development!”


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