Finding drugs that inhibit protein-protein interactions is usually difficult. While computeraided design is used widely to facilitate the drug discovery process for protein targets with well-defined binding pockets, its application to the design of inhibitors targeting a protein surface is very limited. In this mini-review we address two aspects of this issue: firstly, we overview the current state of design methodology for inhibitors specifically targeting protein surfaces, and secondly, we briefly outline recent advances in computational methods for structure-based drug design. These methods are closely related to protein docking and protein recognition, the difference being that in ligand design, ligands are built on a fragment-by-fragment basis. A novel scheme of computational combinatorial ligand design developed for the design of inhibitors that interfere with protein-protein interaction is described in detail. Current applications and limitations of this methodology, as well as its future prospects, are discussed.
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, PO Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC 3050, Australia.