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Cancer Res. 2019 Jan 1;79(1):251-262. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-2918. Epub 2018 Nov 1.

MDM2-Recruiting PROTAC Offers Superior, Synergistic Antiproliferative Activity via Simultaneous Degradation of BRD4 and Stabilization of p53.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Arvinas, LLC, New Haven, Connecticut.
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Department of Chemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Department of Pharmacology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.


Although the number of proteins effectively targeted for posttranslational degradation by PROTAC has grown steadily, the number of E3 ligases successfully exploited to accomplish this has been limited to the few for which small-molecule ligands have been discovered. Although the E3 ligase MDM2 is bound by the nutlin class of small-molecule ligands, there are few nutlin-based PROTAC. Because a nutlin-based PROTAC should both knockdown its target protein and upregulate the tumor suppressor p53, we examined the ability of such a PROTAC to decrease cancer cell viability. A nutlin-based, BRD4-degrading PROTAC, A1874, was able to degrade its target protein by 98% with nanomolar potency. Given the complementary ability of A1874 to stabilize p53, we discovered that the nutlin-based PROTAC was more effective in inhibiting proliferation of many cancer cell lines with wild-type p53 than was a corresponding VHL-utilizing PROTAC with similar potency and efficacy to degrade BRD4. This is the first report of a PROTAC in which the E3 ligase ligand and targeting warhead combine to exert a synergistic antiproliferative effect. Our study highlights the untapped potential that may be unlocked by expanding the repertoire of E3 ligases that can be recruited by PROTAC. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings present the first BRD4-targeting MDM2-based PROTAC that possesses potent, distinct, and synergistic biological activities associated with both ends of this heterobifunctional molecule.

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