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Oct 2019 Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS

Targeting intrinsically disordered proteins involved in cancer.


Santofimia-Castaño P, Rizzuti B, Xia Y, Abian O, Peng L, Velázquez-Campoy A, Neira JL, Iovanna J


Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) do not have a well-defined structure under physiological conditions, but they have key roles in cell signaling and regulation, and they are frequently related to the development of diseases, such as cancer and other malignancies. This has converted IDPs in attractive therapeutic targets; however, targeting IDPs is challenging because of their dynamic nature. In the last years, different experimental and computational approaches, as well as the combination of both, have been explored to identify molecules to target either the hot-spots or the allosteric sites of IDPs. In this review, we summarize recent developments in successful targeting of IDPs, all of which are involved in different cancer types. The strategies used to develop and design (or in one particular example, to repurpose) small molecules targeting IDPs are, in a global sense, similar to those used in well-folded proteins: (1) screening of chemically diverse or target-oriented compound libraries; or (2) study of the interfaces involved in recognition of their natural partners, and design of molecular candidates capable of binding to such binding interface. We describe the outcomes of using these approaches in targeting IDPs involved in cancer, in the view to providing insight, to target IDPs in general. In a broad sense, the designed small molecules seem to target the most hydrophobic regions of the IDPs, hampering macromolecule (DNA or protein)-IDP interactions; furthermore, in most of the molecule-IDP complexes described so far, the protein remains disordered.

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