The SCHOOL of nature: III. From mechanistic understanding to novel therapies

Self Nonself. 2010 Jul;1(3):192-224. doi: 10.4161/self.1.3.12794. Epub 2010 Jun 11.


Protein-protein interactions play a central role in biological processes and thus represent an appealing target for innovative drug design and development. They can be targeted by small molecule inhibitors, modulatory peptides and peptidomimetics, which represent a superior alternative to protein therapeutics that carry many disadvantages. Considering that transmembrane signal transduction is an attractive process to therapeutically control multiple diseases, it is fundamentally and clinically important to mechanistically understand how signal transduction occurs. Uncovering specific protein-protein interactions critical for signal transduction, a general platform for receptor-mediated signaling, the signaling chain homooligomerization (SCHOOL) platform, suggests these interactions as universal therapeutic targets. Within the platform, the general principles of signaling are similar for a variety of functionally unrelated receptors. This suggests that global therapeutic strategies targeting key protein-protein interactions involved in receptor triggering and transmembrane signal transduction may be used to treat a diverse set of diseases. This also assumes that clinical knowledge and therapeutic strategies can be transferred between seemingly disparate disorders, such as T cell-mediated skin diseases and platelet disorders or combined to develop novel pharmacological approaches. Intriguingly, human viruses use the SCHOOL-like strategies to modulate and/or escape the host immune response. These viral mechanisms are highly optimized over the millennia, and the lessons learned from viral pathogenesis can be used practically for rational drug design. Proof of the SCHOOL concept in the development of novel therapies for atopic dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, platelet disorders and other multiple indications with unmet needs opens new horizons in therapeutics.