Cozza, Giorgio (2008) Strategie computazionali per lo studio delle interazioni tra macromolecole e per la ricerca di nuovi inibitori di proteine chinasi. [Ph.D. thesis]
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The concept of "druggable genome" limits the molecular targets for which commercially viable compounds can be developed. In humans, whose genome accounts for about 30,000 genes, it has been calculated that a subset of no more than 3,000 genes express proteins able to bind drug-like molecules. This limit derives from the fact that the ability of a protein to bind a small molecule with the appropriate chemical properties does not necessarily make it a potential drug target, this latter feature being only applied to proteins that are also linked to disease. Among these, it has become evident that the proteins participating in intra- or intercellular communication represent the largest family with about 20-25% of the druggable genome consisting of kinases followed by G-protein coupled receptors (15%) and cation channels (5%), three of the fundamental groups of proteins implicated in signal transduction. For this reason, protein kinases have turned out to be one of the richest target mines, since drugs inhibiting specific kinases are in constant development, and some of them are currently investigated in clinical trials such as Gleevec and Iressa. Most of the structural information currently available about protein kinases is resulting from the continuously growing number of crystallographic structures solved. These studies suggest that the overall architecture of the kinases is quite similar, however, since the ATP-binding site possesses some distinct subsites, different kinases can be targeted by quite selective drugs. Two main objectives will be pursued: a) a search for new potent and selective inhibitors and b) an analysis of the interactions between kinases and related substrates.
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