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J Med Chem. 2019 Sep 12;62(17):8152-8163. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b00919. Epub 2019 Aug 21.

Proteolysis Targeting Chimeras for the Selective Degradation of Mcl-1/Bcl-2 Derived from Nonselective Target Binding Ligands.


Proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC) recruits an E3 ligase to a target protein to induce its ubiquitination and subsequent degradation. We reported success in the development of two PROTACs (C3 and C5) that potently and selectively induce the degradation of Mcl-1 and Bcl-2 (DC50 = 0.7 and 3.0 μM), respectively, by introducing the E3 ligase cereblon-binding ligand pomalidomide to Mcl-1/Bcl-2 dual inhibitors S1-6 and Nap-1 with micromolar-range affinity. C3-induced Mcl-1 ubiquitination translated into much more lethality in Mcl-1-dependent H23 cells than the most potent Mcl-1 occupancy-based inhibitor A-1210477 with nanomolar-range affinity. Moreover, structure-activity relationship analysis and molecular dynamic simulations discovered the structural basis for turning nonselective or promiscuous Bcl-2 family ligands into selective PROTACs. C3 and C5 exhibited reversible depletion in living cells, which provides a new potent toolkit for gain-of-function studies to probe the dynamic roles of Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 in apoptosis networks.

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