The sneaking ligand approach for cell type-specific modulation of intracellular signalling pathways

Clin Immunol. 2018 Jan;186:14-20. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2017.08.018. Epub 2017 Sep 1.


Small molecules interfering with intracellular signalling pathways are used in the treatment of multiple diseases including RA. However, small molecules usually affect signalling in most cell types, not only in those which need to be targeted. This general inhibition of signalling pathways causes often adverse effects, which could be avoided by cell type-specific inhibitors. For cell-type specific modulation of signal transduction, we developed the sneaking ligand fusion proteins (SLFPs). SLFPs contain three domains: (1) the binding domain mediating cell type-specific targeting and endocytosis; (2) the endosomal release sequence releasing the effector domain into the cytoplasm; (3) the effector domain modulating signalling. Using our SLFP NF-kappaB inhibitor termed SLC1 we demonstrated that cell-type-specific modulation of intracellular signalling pathways is feasible, that endothelial NF-kappaB activation is critical for arthritis and peritonitis and that SLFPs help to identify disease-relevant pathways in defined cell types. Hence, SLFPs may improve risk-benefit ratios of therapeutic interventions.

Keywords: Autoimmune disease; Cell type-specific targeting; Intracellular signalling; Sneaking ligand.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ligands*
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Domains
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Toxins, Biological / chemistry


  • Ligands
  • NF-kappa B
  • Toxins, Biological