Pathogen-driven cancers from a structural perspective: Targeting host-pathogen protein-protein interactions

Emine Sila Ozdemir, Ruth Nussinov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Host-pathogen interactions (HPIs) affect and involve multiple mechanisms in both the pathogen and the host. Pathogen interactions disrupt homeostasis in host cells, with their toxins interfering with host mechanisms, resulting in infections, diseases, and disorders, extending from AIDS and COVID-19, to cancer. Studies of the three-dimensional (3D) structures of host-pathogen complexes aim to understand how pathogens interact with their hosts. They also aim to contribute to the development of rational therapeutics, as well as preventive measures. However, structural studies are fraught with challenges toward these aims. This review describes the state-of-the-art in protein-protein interactions (PPIs) between the host and pathogens from the structural standpoint. It discusses computational aspects of predicting these PPIs, including machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven, and overviews available computational methods and their challenges. It concludes with examples of how theoretical computational approaches can result in a therapeutic agent with a potential of being used in the clinics, as well as future directions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1061595
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
StatePublished - 2023


  • artificial intelligence
  • cancer therapeutics
  • drug discovery
  • host-pathogen interactions
  • machine learning
  • protein-protein interactions


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