Chembiochem 2018 09 5;19(18):1907-1912. Epub 2018 Sep 5.
University of Michigan, Life Sciences Institute, 210 Washentaw Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA.
The GACKIX activator binding domain has been a compelling target for small-molecule probe discovery because of the central role of activator-GACKIX complexes in diseases ranging from leukemia to memory disorders. Additionally, GACKIX is an ideal model to dissect the context-dependent function of activator-coactivator complexes. However, the dynamic and transient protein-protein interactions (PPIs) formed by GACKIX are difficult targets for small molecules. An additional complication is that activator-binding motifs, such as GACKIX, are found in multiple coactivators, making specificity difficult to attain. In this study, we demonstrate that the strategy of tethering can be used to rapidly discover highly specific covalent modulators of the dynamic PPIs between activators and coactivators. These serve as both ortho- and allosteric modulators, enabling the tunable assembly or disassembly of the activator-coactivator complexes formed between the KIX domain and its cognate activator binding partners MLL and CREB. The molecules maintain their function and selectivity, even in human cell lysates and in bacterial cells, and thus, will ultimately be highly useful probes for cellular studies.