Structural rationale for the coupled binding and unfolding of the c-Myc oncoprotein by small molecules

Chem Biol. 2008 Nov 24;15(11):1149-55. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2008.09.011.


The basic-helix-loop-helix-leucine-zipper domains of the c-Myc oncoprotein and its obligate partner Max are intrinsically disordered (ID) monomers that undergo coupled folding and binding upon heterodimerization. We have identified the binding sites and determined the structural means by which two unrelated small molecules, 10058-F4 and 10074-G5, bind c-Myc and stabilize the ID monomer over the highly ordered c-Myc-Max heterodimer. In solution, the molecules bind to distinct regions of c-Myc and thus limit its ability to interact with Max and assume a more rigid and defined conformation. The identification of multiple, specific binding sites on an ID domain suggests that small molecules may provide a general means for manipulating the structure and function of ID proteins, such as c-Myc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Oxadiazoles / chemistry
  • Oxadiazoles / metabolism*
  • Oxadiazoles / pharmacology*
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Protein Conformation / drug effects
  • Protein Denaturation / drug effects
  • Protein Multimerization / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism*
  • Thiazoles / chemistry
  • Thiazoles / metabolism*
  • Thiazoles / pharmacology*


  • 10074-G5
  • 5-(4-ethylbenzylidene)-2-thioxothiazolidin-4-one
  • MYC protein, human
  • Oxadiazoles
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Thiazoles