How Physiologic Targets Can Be Distinguished from Drug-Binding Proteins
Molecular and Cellular Biology
In clinical trials, some drugs owe their effectiveness to off-target activity. This and other observations raise a possibility that many studies identifying targets of drugs are incomplete. If off-target proteins are pharmacologically important, it will be worthwhile to identify them early in the development process to gain a better understanding of the molecular basis of drug action. Herein, we outline a multidisciplinary strategy for systematic identification of physiologic targets of drugs in cells. A drug-binding protein whose genetic disruption yields very similar molecular effects as treatment of cells with the drug may be defined as a physiologic target of the drug. For a drug developed with a rational approach, it is desirable to verify experimentally that a protein used for hit optimization in vitro remains the sole polypeptide recognized by the drug in a cell. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: A body of evidence indicates that inactivation of many drug-binding proteins may not cause the pharmacological effects triggered by the drugs. A multidisciplinary cell-based approach can be of great value in identifying the physiologic targets of drugs, including those developed with target-based strategies.
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