Rational Design of Molecular Glues: Breakthroughs and Perspectives

27 December 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


CRBN is a substrate receptor for the Cullin Ring E3 ubiquitin ligase 4 (CRL4) complex. It has been observed that CRBN can be exploited by small molecules to facilitate the recruitment and ubiquitination of non-natural CRL4 substrates, resulting in the degradation of neo-substrate through the ubiquitin-proteasome system. This phenomenon, known as molecular glue induced protein degradation, has emerged as an innovative therapeutic approach in contrast to traditional small-molecule drugs. One key advantage of molecular glues, in comparison to conventional small-molecule drugs adhering to Lipinski's Rule of Five, is their ability to operate without the necessity for specific binding pockets on target proteins. This unique characteristic empowers molecular glues to interact with conventionally intractable protein targets, such as transcription factors and scaffold proteins. The ability to induce the degradation of these previously elusive targets by hijacking the ubiquitin-proteasome system presents a promising avenue for the treatment of recalcitrant diseases. Nevertheless, the rational design of molecular glues remains a formidable challenge due to the limited understanding of their mechanisms and actions. This review offers an overview of recent advances and breakthroughs in the field of CRBN-based molecular glues, while also exploring the prospects for a systematic approach to designing these compounds.


Molecular Glue
Rational Design


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