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Group-Based Optimization of Potent and Cell-Active Inhibitors of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) E3 Ubiquitin Ligase: Structure-Activity Relationships Leading to the Chemical Probe (2S,4R)-1-((S)-2-(1-Cyanocyclopropanecarboxamido)-3,3-dimethylbutanoyl)-4-hydroxy-N-(4-(4-methylthiazol-5-yl)benzyl)pyrrolidine-2-carboxamide (VH298)

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Pedro Soares
  • Morgan S Gadd
  • Julianty Frost
  • Carles Galdeano
  • Lucy Ellis
  • Ola Epemolu
  • Sonia Rocha
  • Kevin D Read
  • Alessio Ciulli
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>25/01/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number2
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)599-618
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date30/08/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein is the substrate binding subunit of the VHL E3 ubiquitin ligase, which targets hydroxylated α subunit of hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) for ubiquitination and subsequent proteasomal degradation. VHL is a potential target for treating anemia and ischemic diseases, motivating the development of inhibitors of the VHL:HIF-α protein-protein interaction. Additionally, bifunctional proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs) containing a VHL ligand can hijack the E3 ligase activity to induce degradation of target proteins. We report the structure-guided design and group-based optimization of a series of VHL inhibitors with low nanomolar potencies and improved cellular permeability. Structure-activity relationships led to the discovery of potent inhibitors 10 and chemical probe VH298, with dissociation constants <100 nM, which induced marked HIF-1α intracellular stabilization. Our study provides new chemical tools to probe the VHL-HIF pathways and new VHL ligands for next-generation PROTACs.