The use of small molecules that turn specific proteins on or off provides a level of temporal control that is difficult to achieve using standard genetic approaches. Consequently, the development of small-molecule switches of protein function is a very active area of chemical biology, sometimes referred to as chemical genetics. Most studies in this area rely on the identification of small molecules that bind directly to the active site of a target protein, thereby acting as agonists or antagonists of function. Strategies have also been described in which the small molecule triggers a change in the secondary, tertiary, or ternary structure of the protein, in so doing changing the functional state of the molecule. Another approach to this problem would be to alter the primary structure of a target protein in response to a small-molecule trigger; a dramatic change in primary sequence would be directly coupled to function. In principle, this can be achieved by harnessing protein splicing, a posttranslational editing process that results in the precise removal of an internal domain (termed an intein) from two flanking sequences termed the N- and C-exteins. In this communication we introduce a technique that allows protein splicing to occur only in the presence of the small molecule, rapamycin. This approach is expected to be independent of the nature of the two exteins and so should provide a general vehicle for controlling protein function using small molecules.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry