Cover Story: Two highly selective triazole-containing peptidic polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) polo-box domain (PBD)-binding inhibitors (3d in green and 4b in orange) are depicted, binding within the hydrophobic “cryptic” binding pocket on the surface of the Plk1 PBD (light blue). The placement was guided by our previously reported X-ray crystal structure of PBD-bound parent peptide (2a) (PDB accession code: 3RQ7), whose binding pocket is highlighted in yellow. These ligands retain the high PBD-binding affinity of the parent peptide, while showing desirable enhanced selectivity for the PBD of Plk1 relative to the PBDs of Plk2 and Plk3.
Members of the polo-like kinase (Plk) family of serine/threonine protein kinases play crucial roles in cell cycle regulation and proliferation. Of five Plks (Plk1 – 5), Plk1 is recognized as an anticancer drug target. Plk1 contains multiple structural components that are important for its proper biological function. These include an N-terminal catalytic domain and a C-terminal non-catalytic polo-box domain (PBD). The PBD binds to phosphothreonine (pT) and phosphoserine-containing sequences. Blocking PBD-dependent interactions offers a potential means of down-regulating Plk1 function that is distinct from targeting its ATP-binding site. Previously, we demonstrated by tethering alkylphenyl chains from the N(π)-position of the His residue in the 5-mer PLHSpT, that we were able to access a hydrophobic "cryptic" binding pocket on the surface of the PBD, and in so doing enhance binding affinities by approximately 1000-fold. More recently, we optimized these PBD-ligand interactions using an oxime ligation-based strategy. Herein, using azide-alkyne cycloaddition reactions, we explore new triazole-containing PBD-binding antagonists. Some of these ligands retain the high PBD-binding affinity of the parent peptide, while showing desirable enhanced selectivity for the PBD of Plk1 relative to the PBDs of Plk2 and Plk3.
Zhao, X. Z.; Tsuji, K.; Hyman, D. M.; Burke, T. R., Jr. Development of highly selective 1,2,3-triazole-containing peptidic polo-like kinase 1 polo-box domain-binding inhibitors Molecules 2019, 24, 1488 (doi:10.3390/molecules24081488).