MYC is a key transcriptional regulator involved in cellular proliferation and has established roles in transcriptional elongation and initiation, microRNA regulation, apoptosis, and pluripotency. Despite this prevalence, functional chemical probes of MYC function at the protein level have been limited. Previously, we discovered 5a, that binds to MYC with potency and specificity, downregulates the transcriptional activities of MYC and shows efficacy in vivo. However, this scaffold posed intrinsic pharmacokinetic liabilities, namely, poor solubility that precluded biophysical interrogation. Here, we developed a screening platform based on field-effect transistor analysis (Bio-FET), surface plasmon resonance (SPR), and a microtumor formation assay to analyze a series of new compounds aimed at improving these properties. This blind SAR campaign has produced a new lead compound of significantly increased in vivo stability and solubility for a 40-fold increase in exposure. This probe represents a significant advancement that will not only enable biophysical characterization of this interaction and further SAR, but also contribute to advances in understanding of MYC biology.
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