2020 journal article
Enhancing intracellular accumulation and target engagement of PROTACs with reversible covalent chemistry
Nature Communications, 11(1).
Contributors: X. Lin*
Abstract Current efforts in the proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC) field mostly focus on choosing an appropriate E3 ligase for the target protein, improving the binding affinities towards the target protein and the E3 ligase, and optimizing the PROTAC linker. However, due to the large molecular weights of PROTACs, their cellular uptake remains an issue. Through comparing how different warhead chemistry, reversible noncovalent (RNC), reversible covalent (RC), and irreversible covalent (IRC) binders, affects the degradation of Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (BTK), we serendipitously discover that cyano-acrylamide-based reversible covalent chemistry can significantly enhance the intracellular accumulation and target engagement of PROTACs and develop RC-1 as a reversible covalent BTK PROTAC with a high target occupancy as its corresponding kinase inhibitor and effectiveness as a dual functional inhibitor and degrader, a different mechanism-of-action for PROTACs. Importantly, this reversible covalent strategy is generalizable to improve other PROTACs, opening a path to enhance PROTAC efficacy.