Inhibitors, protacs and molecular glues as diverse therapeutic modalities to target cyclin-dependent kinase

Sandeep Rana, Jayapal Reddy Mallareddy, Sarbjit Singh, Lidia Boghean, Amarnath Natarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) family of proteins play prominent roles in transcription, mRNA processing, and cell cycle regulation, making them attractive cancer targets. Palbociclib was the first FDA-approved CDK inhibitor that non-selectively targets the ATP binding sites of CDK4 and CDK6. In this review, we will briefly inventory CDK inhibitors that are either part of over 30 active clinical trials or recruiting patients. The lack of selectivity among CDKs and dose-limiting toxicities are major challenges associated with the development of CDK inhibitors. Proteolysis Targeting Chimeras (PROTACs) and Molecular Glues have emerged as alternative therapeutic modalities to target proteins. PROTACs and Molecular glues utilize the cellular protein degradation machinery to destroy the target protein. PROTACs are heterobifunctional molecules that form a ternary complex with the target protein and E3-ligase by making two distinct small molecule–protein interactions. On the other hand, Molecular glues function by converting the target protein into a “neo-substrate” for an E3 ligase. Unlike small molecule inhibitors, preclinical studies with CDK targeted PROTACs have exhibited improved CDK selectivity. Moreover, the efficacy of PROTACs and molecular glues are not tied to the dose of these molecular entities but to the formation of the ternary complex. Here, we provide an overview of PROTACs and molecular glues that modulate CDK function as emerging therapeutic modalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5506
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • CDK
  • Cancer
  • Kinase
  • Molecular glue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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