Molecular tweezers for lysine and arginine – powerful inhibitors of pathologic protein aggregation
Molecular tweezers represent the first class of artificial receptor molecules that have made the way from a supramolecular host to a drug candidate with promising results in animal tests. Due to their unique structure, only lysine and arginine are well complexed with exquisite selectivity by a threading mechanism, which unites electrostatic, hydrophobic and dispersive attraction. However, tweezer design must avoid self-dimerization, self-inclusion and external guest binding. Moderate affinities of molecular tweezers towards sterically well accessible basic amino acids with fast on and off rates protect normal proteins from potential interference with their biological function. However, the early stages of abnormal Aβ, α-synuclein, and TTR assembly are redirected upon tweezer binding towards the generation of amorphous non-toxic materials that can be degraded by the intracellular and extracellular clearance mechanisms. Thus, specific host–guest chemistry between aggregation-prone proteins and lysine/arginine binders rescues cell viability and restores animal health in models of AD, PD, and TTR amyloidosis.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Host–guest chemistry