The discovery of many new targets by chemical genetics has frequently exploited the fact that their biologically active chemical ligands were reactive and thus could covalently bind to their protein target(s). When experimental compounds or therapeutic agents with unidentified mechanisms of action do not contain reactive groups that can covalently label the putative site of molecular action, it may be possible to create a reactive photo-affinity probe if there is sufficient knowledge of the structure-activity relationship of the chemical series. Two specific examples are presented. These include the use of photo-affinity probes in the identification of the mechanism of action of synthetic oxazolidinones, a class of novel acting antibiotics and in the identification of a novel target for the insulin-sensitizing thiazolidinediones. Developments in photoaffinity labeling and combinatorial library design now imply that the parallel incorporation of photo-probes into screening library design could, at least in principle, greatly facilitate reverse pharmacological and chemical genetics approaches to protein target discovery.
Keywords: photo-affinity labeling, photoprobe, reverse pharmacology, oxazolidinone, thiazolidinedione, mitoneet
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