Targeting protein conformations with small molecules to control protein complexes

Emmanouil Zacharioudakis, Evripidis Gavathiotis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Dynamic protein complexes function in all cellular processes, from signaling to transcription, using distinct conformations that regulate their activity. Conformational switching of proteins can turn on or off their activity through protein–protein interactions, catalytic function, cellular localization, or membrane interaction. Recent advances in structural, computational, and chemical methodologies have enabled the discovery of small-molecule activators and inhibitors of conformationally dynamic proteins by using a more rational design than a serendipitous screening approach. Here, we discuss such recent examples, focusing on the mechanism of protein conformational switching and its regulation by small molecules. We emphasize the rational approaches to control protein oligomerization with small molecules that offer exciting opportunities for investigation of novel biological mechanisms and drug discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTrends in Biochemical Sciences
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • activators
  • conformational plasticity
  • dynamic protein complexes
  • inhibitors
  • protein–protein interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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