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Nat Protoc. 2007;2(2):424-33.

Substrate activity screening (SAS): a general procedure for the preparation and screening of a fragment-based non-peptidic protease substrate library for inhibitor discovery.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Substrate activity screening (SAS) is a fragment-based method for the rapid development of novel substrates and their conversion into non-peptidic inhibitors of Cys and Ser proteases. The method consists of three steps: (i) a library of N-acyl aminocoumarins with diverse, low-molecular-weight N-acyl groups is screened to identify protease substrates using a simple fluorescence-based assay; (ii) the identified N-acyl aminocoumarin substrates are optimized by rapid analog synthesis and evaluation; and (iii) the optimized substrates are converted into inhibitors by direct replacement of the aminocoumarin with known mechanism-based pharmacophores. This protocol describes a general procedure for the solid-phase synthesis of a library of N-acyl aminocoumarin substrates and the screening procedure to identify weak binding substrates.

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