In a time of unprecedented challenges in developing potent, selective and well-tolerated protein inhibitors as therapeutics, drug hunters are increasingly seeking alternative modalities to modulate pharmacological targets. Selective inhibitors are achievable for only a fraction of the proteome, and are not guaranteed to elicit the desired response in patients, especially when pursuing targets identified through genetic knockdown. Targeted protein degradation holds the potential to expand the range of proteins that can be effectively modulated. Drugs inducing protein degradation through misfolding or by modulating cereblon (CRBN) substrate recognition are already approved for treatment of cancer patients. The last decade has seen the development of proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs), small molecules that elicit proteasomal degradation by causing protein polyubiquitination. These have been used to degrade a range of disease-relevant proteins in cells, and some show promising efficacy in preclinical animal models, although their clinical efficacy and tolerability is yet to be proven. This review introduces current strategies for protein degradation with an emphasis on PROTACs and the role of click chemistry in PROTAC research through the formation of libraries of preclicked PROTACs or in-cell click-formed PROTACs (CLIPTACs).

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