Computationally designed high specificity inhibitors delineate the roles of BCL2 family proteins in cancer

Elife. 2016 Nov 2;5:e20352. doi: 10.7554/eLife.20352.

Abstract

Many cancers overexpress one or more of the six human pro-survival BCL2 family proteins to evade apoptosis. To determine which BCL2 protein or proteins block apoptosis in different cancers, we computationally designed three-helix bundle protein inhibitors specific for each BCL2 pro-survival protein. Following in vitro optimization, each inhibitor binds its target with high picomolar to low nanomolar affinity and at least 300-fold specificity. Expression of the designed inhibitors in human cancer cell lines revealed unique dependencies on BCL2 proteins for survival which could not be inferred from other BCL2 profiling methods. Our results show that designed inhibitors can be generated for each member of a closely-knit protein family to probe the importance of specific protein-protein interactions in complex biological processes.

Keywords: Bcl-2; cancer; cancer biology; computational biology; computational protein design; human; systems biology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Computational Biology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics*

Substances

  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2