Inhibitors of bromodomain and extra-terminal proteins for treating multiple human diseases

Med Res Rev. 2021 Jan;41(1):223-245. doi: 10.1002/med.21730. Epub 2020 Sep 14.


Clinical development of bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) protein inhibitors differs from the traditional course of drug development. These drugs are simultaneously being evaluated for treating a wide spectrum of human diseases due to their novel mechanism of action. BET proteins are epigenetic "readers," which play a primary role in transcription. Here, we briefly describe the BET family of proteins, of which BRD4 has been studied most extensively. We discuss BRD4 activity at latent enhancers as an example of BET protein function. We examine BRD4 redistribution and enhancer reprogramming in embryonic development, cancer, cardiovascular, autoimmune, and metabolic diseases, presenting hallmark studies that highlight BET proteins as attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. We review the currently available approaches to targeting BET proteins, methods of selectively targeting individual bromodomains, and review studies that compare the effects of selective BET inhibition to those of pan-BET inhibition. Lastly, we examine the current clinical landscape of BET inhibitor development.

Keywords: BD-selective; BET; BETi; bromodomain (BD); enhancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Protein Domains
  • Transcription Factors


  • BRD4 protein, human
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors