Therapeutic Targeting the Allosteric Cysteinome of RAS and Kinase Families

Lianbo Li, Cynthia Meyer, Zhiwei Zhou, Ammar Elmezayen, Kenneth Westover

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Allosteric mechanisms are pervasive in nature, but human-designed allosteric perturbagens are rare. The history of KRASG12C inhibitor development suggests that covalent chemistry may be a key to expanding the armamentarium of allosteric inhibitors. In that effort, irreversible targeting of a cysteine converted a non-deal allosteric binding pocket and low affinity ligands into a tractable drugging strategy. Here we examine the feasibility of expanding this approach to other allosteric pockets of RAS and kinase family members, given that both protein families are regulators of vital cellular processes that are often dysregulated in cancer and other human diseases. Moreover, these heavily studied families are the subject of numerous drug development campaigns that have resulted, sometimes serendipitously, in the discovery of allosteric inhibitors. We consequently conducted a comprehensive search for cysteines, a commonly targeted amino acid for covalent drugs, using AlphaFold-generated structures of those families. This new analysis presents potential opportunities for allosteric targeting of validated and understudied drug targets, with an emphasis on cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167626
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • allosteric inhibitor
  • covalent inhibitor
  • cysteinome
  • kinase inhibitor
  • KRAS inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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