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Biopolymers. 1997;43(5):383-400.

SH3 domains and drug design: ligands, structure, and biological function.

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


The ligand binding preferences, structural features, and biological function of SH3 (Src homology 3) domains are discussed. SH3 domains bind "core" Pro-rich peptide ligands (7-9 amino acids in length) in a polyproline II helical conformation in a highly conserved aromatic rich patch on the protein surface (approximately 390 A2). The ligands can interact with the protein in one of two orientations, depending on the position (N- vs C-terminal) of ligand residues binding to the SH3 selectivity pocket. Core SH3 ligands are characterized by relatively weak interactions (KD = 5-100 microM) that show little binding selectivity within SH3 families. Higher affinity, more selective contiguous ligands require additional flanking residues that bind to less conserved portions of the SH3 surface, with corresponding increase in ligand size and complexity. In contrast to peptide ligands, protein ligands of SH3 domains can exploit multiple discontiguous interactions to enhance affinity and selectivity. A protein-SH3 interaction that utilizes unique interactions may permit the design of small high affinity SH3 ligands. At present, the extended nature of the binding site and homologous nature of the core binding region among SH3 domains present key challenges for structure-based drug design.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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