The transcription factor BCL6 is a known driver of oncogenesis in lymphoid malignancies, including diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Disruption of its interaction with transcriptional repressors interferes with the oncogenic effects of BCL6. We used a structure-based drug design to develop highly potent compounds that block this interaction. A subset of these inhibitors also causes rapid ubiquitylation and degradation of BCL6 in cells. These compounds display significantly stronger induction of expression of BCL6-repressed genes and anti-proliferative effects than compounds that merely inhibit co-repressor interactions. This work establishes the BTB domain as a highly druggable structure, paving the way for the use of other members of this protein family as drug targets. The magnitude of effects elicited by this class of BCL6-degrading compounds exceeds that of our equipotent non-degrading inhibitors, suggesting opportunities for the development of BCL6-based lymphoma therapeutics.
Keywords: BTB domain; cancer; drug discovery; drug target; lymphoma; oncogene; transcription factor; ubiquitin.
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