Proteolysis-Targeting Chimeras (PROTACs) Based on Macrocyclic Tetrapeptides Selectively Degrade Class I Histone Deacetylases 1–3

04 June 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Histone deacetylases (HDACs) remove acetyl groups from histone proteins and are implicated in gene regulation. They have been recognized as drug targets for treatment of cancer and other human diseases and several inhibitors are already clinically used. Here, we report the design, synthesis, and cellular characterization of a proteolysis-targeting chimera (PROTAC) capable of selectively degrading class I HDACs 1–3 in cells. These novel chemotypes are based on potent and class I-selective macrocyclic tetrapeptide inhibitors, which were linked to thalidomide by modular synthesis, employing copper-catalyzed azide–alkyne “click” chemistry. In HEK293T cells, these conjugates lead to degradation of HDAC1–3 in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Concomitant histone hyperacetylation without leading to cytotoxic effects was observed by western blot. These chemotypes enable the study of the biological roles of class I HDAC enzymes by short-term temporal deletion. Our compounds represent the first examples of degraders with demonstrated selectivity for class I HDACs 1–3. Importantly, this study highlights the utility of cyclic peptides as target-binding elements for PROTAC design in general.


PROTAC degraders
histone deacetylase
macrocyclic peptides
protein degradation

Supplementary materials



Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.