Small-molecule stabilization of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) is a promising concept in drug discovery, however the question how to identify or design chemical starting points in a "bottom-up" approach is largely unanswered. We report a novel concept for identifying initial chemical matter for PPI stabilization based on imine-forming fragments. The imine bond offers a covalent anchor for site-directed fragment targeting, whereas its transient nature enables efficient analysis of structure-activity relationships. This bond enables fragment identification and optimisation using protein crystallography. We report novel fragments that bind specifically to a lysine at the PPI interface of the p65-subunit-derived peptide of NF-κB with the adapter protein 14-3-3. Those fragments that subsequently establish contacts with the p65-derived peptide, rather than with 14-3-3, efficiently stabilize the 14-3-3/p65 complex and offer novel starting points for molecular glues.
- 14-3-3 proteins
- cooperative effects
- fragment-based drug discovery
- imine chemistry
- protein–protein interactions