Discovery of Nanomolar DCAF1 Small Molecule Ligands

J Med Chem. 2023 Apr 13;66(7):5041-5060. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.2c02132. Epub 2023 Mar 22.


DCAF1 is a substrate receptor of two distinct E3 ligases (CRL4DCAF1 and EDVP), plays a critical physiological role in protein degradation, and is considered a drug target for various cancers. Antagonists of DCAF1 could be used toward the development of therapeutics for cancers and viral treatments. We used the WDR domain of DCAF1 to screen a 114-billion-compound DNA encoded library (DEL) and identified candidate compounds using similarity search and machine learning. This led to the discovery of a compound (Z1391232269) with an SPR KD of 11 μM. Structure-guided hit optimization led to the discovery of OICR-8268 (26e) with an SPR KD of 38 nM and cellular target engagement with EC50 of 10 μM as measured by cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA). OICR-8268 is an excellent tool compound to enable the development of next-generation DCAF1 ligands toward cancer therapeutics, further investigation of DCAF1 functions in cells, and the development of DCAF1-based PROTACs.

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

  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Neoplasms*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases* / metabolism


  • Ligands
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Carrier Proteins