Parallel Automated Flow Synthesis of Covalent Protein Complexes That Can Inhibit MYC-Driven Transcription

Sebastian Pomplun, Muhammad Jbara, Carly K. Schissel, Susana Wilson Hawken, Ann Boija, Charles Li, Isaac Klein, Bradley L. Pentelute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dysregulation of the transcription factor MYC is involved in many human cancers. The dimeric transcription factor complexes of MYC/MAX and MAX/MAX activate or inhibit, respectively, gene transcription upon binding to the same enhancer box DNA. Targeting these complexes in cancer is a long-standing challenge. Inspired by the inhibitory activity of the MAX/MAX dimer, we engineered covalently linked, synthetic homo- A nd heterodimeric protein complexes to attenuate oncogenic MYC-driven transcription. We prepared the covalent protein complexes (a20 kDa, 167-231 residues) in a single shot via parallel automated flow synthesis in hours. The stabilized covalent dimers display DNA binding activity, are intrinsically cell-penetrant, and inhibit cancer cell proliferation in different cell lines. RNA sequencing and gene set enrichment analysis in A549 cancer cells confirmed that the synthetic dimers interfere with MYC-driven transcription. Our results demonstrate the potential of automated flow technology to rapidly deliver engineered synthetic protein complex mimetics that can serve as a starting point in developing inhibitors of MYC-driven cancer cell growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1408-1418
Number of pages11
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 25 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


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