Novel discoveries in molecular disease pathways within the cell, combined with increasing information regarding protein binding partners has lead to a new approach in drug discovery. There is interest in designing drugs to modulate protein-protein interactions as opposed to solely targeting the catalytic active site within a single enzyme or protein. There are many challenges in this new approach to drug discovery, particularly since the protein-protein interface has a larger surface area, can comprise a discontinuous epitope, and is more amorphous and less well defined than the typical drug design target, a small contained enzyme-binding pocket. Computational methods to predict modes of protein-protein interaction, as well as protein interface hot spots, have garnered significant interest, in order to facilitate the development of drugs to successfully disrupt and inhibit protein-protein interactions. This review summarizes some current methods available for computational protein-protein docking, as well as tabulating some examples of the successful design of antagonists and small molecule inhibitors for protein-protein interactions. Several of these drugs are now beginning to appear in the clinic.
Keywords: Protein-protein interactions, fragment-based ligand design, protein-protein inhibitors, computational drug design, structure-based ligand design, protein-interface hot-spots
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