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Curr Top Med Chem. 2002 Mar;2(3):271-88.

Photoaffinity labeling in drug discovery and developments: chemical gateway for entering proteomic frontier.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biorecognition Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Japan.


One of the major events occurring at biological interfaces is the specific recognition of bioactive ligands by their receptor proteins. The elucidation of interacting partners is an immediate entrance into the discovery of medicinal leads. The method of photoaffinity labeling enables the direct probing of target protein through a covalent bond introduced between a ligand and its specific receptor. Thus, the photoaffinity labeling is applied in two stages of drug discovery and development processes. First, the method is useful for the screening of early leads. If the binding site analysis of target protein is important for defining a particular pharmacophore, the photoaffinity labeling will give the structural information at the contact point of drugs with receptors. Second, emerging new technologies, combinatorial chemistry, recombinant DNA techniques, and high-throughput analysis, are extending the potential of photoaffinity labeling to become a rapid and more sensitive means for the identification of drug-receptor pairs as well as the elucidation of molecular recognition mechanism at drug-receptor interfaces. This review focuses on several recent impacts of photoaffinity labeling as a useful tool for drug discovery and developments.

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