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J Biomol Screen. 2001 Dec;6(6):429-40.

High-density miniaturized thermal shift assays as a general strategy for drug discovery.

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Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


More general and universally applicable drug discovery assay technologies are needed in order to keep pace with the recent advances in combinatorial chemistry and genomics-based target generation. Ligand-induced conformational stabilization of proteins is a well-understood phenomenon in which substrates, inhibitors, cofactors, and even other proteins provide enhanced stability to proteins on binding. This phenomenon is based on the energetic coupling of the ligand-binding and protein-melting reactions. In an attempt to harness these biophysical properties for drug discovery, fully automated instrumentation was designed and implemented to perform miniaturized fluorescence-based thermal shift assays in a microplate format for the high throughput screening of compound libraries. Validation of this process and instrumentation was achieved by investigating ligand binding to more than 100 protein targets. The general applicability of the thermal shift screening strategy was found to be an important advantage because it circumvents the need to design and retool new assays with each new therapeutic target. Moreover, the miniaturized thermal shift assay methodology does not require any prior knowledge of a therapeutic target's function, making it ideally suited for the quantitative high throughput drug screening and evaluation of targets derived from genomics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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