Protein kinase inhibitors: the tyrosine-specific protein kinases

Pharmacol Ther. 1998 Feb;77(2):81-114. doi: 10.1016/s0163-7258(97)00052-1.


Inhibitors for tyrosine-specific protein kinases ultimately may constitute a novel family of medicinally active agents. Unfortunately, the challenges associated with the acquisition of inhibitors for these enzyme targets are unlike any that have ever been encountered in medicinal chemistry. Protein kinases pose a variety of obstacles in regard to inhibitor design, nearly all of which deal with, in one fashion or another, the issue of specificity. The protein kinase family is extraordinarily large, with estimates that the human genome codes for as many as 2000 protein kinases. Furthermore, inhibitors that are directed to the ATP-binding sites of these enzymes must contend with the presence of a large number of other ATP-utilizing proteins and, in addition, must compete with the high intracellular concentrations of ATP. Although specificity ultimately may prove to be less of a concern with peptide-based inhibitors, these agents neither are readily bioavailable nor do they bind with the requisite affinity to the protein-binding domains of protein kinases. In the face of these challenges, an enormous number of inhibitors have been synthesized and evaluated for the tyrosine-specific protein kinases. The advantages and disadvantages associated with inhibitors that are targeted to the ATP-binding site, the protein-binding site, and nonactive site regions required for appropriate subcellular localization are discussed. The handful of tyrosine-specific protein kinases that have been selected as targets to date and their roles in various disease processes are described as well.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Biological Availability
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases