Chemical genetics can be defined as the study of biological systems using small molecule tools. Cell permeable and selective small molecules modulate gene product function rapidly, reversibly and can be administered conditionally in either a cellular or organismal context. The small molecule approach provides exacting temporal and quantitative control and is therefore an extremely powerful tool for dissecting biological processes. This tutorial review has been written to introduce the subject to a broad audience and highlights recent developments within the field in four key areas of biology: modulating protein-protein interactions, malaria research, hepatitis C virus research, and disrupting RNA interference pathways.
This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011