Targeting Epigenetic Modulators Using PROTAC Degraders: Current Status and Future Perspective

Thomas Webb, Conner Craigon, Alessio Ciulli (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
425 Downloads (Pure)


Epigenetic modulators perform critical functions in gene expression for rapid adaption to external stimuli and are prevalent in all higher-order organisms. The establishment of a link between dysregulation of epigenetic processes and disease pathogenesis, particularly in cancer, has led to much interest in identifying drug targets. This prompted the development of small molecule inhibitors, primarily in haematological malignancies. While there have been epigenetic-targeting drugs to receive FDA approval for the treatment of cancers, many suffer from limited applicability, toxicity and the onset of drug resistance, as our understanding of the biology remains incomplete. The recent advent of genome-wide RNAi and CRISPR screens has shed new light on loss of specific proteins causing vulnerabilities of specific cancer types, highlighting the potential for exploiting synthetic lethality as a therapeutic approach. However, small molecule inhibitors have largely been unable to recapitulate phenotypic effects observed using genome-wide knockdown approaches. This mechanistic disconnect and gap are set to be addressed by targeted protein degradation. Degraders such as PROTACs targeting epigenetic proteins recapitulate CRISPR mediated genetic knockdown at the post-translational level and therefore can better exploit target druggability. Here, we review the current landscape of epigenetic drug discovery, the rationale behind and progress made in the development of PROTAC degraders, and look at future perspectives for the field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128653
Number of pages11
JournalBioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Early online date4 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • Chromatin
  • Degraders
  • Epigenetics
  • Multiprotein complexes
  • Targeted protein degradation
  • Therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Targeting Epigenetic Modulators Using PROTAC Degraders: Current Status and Future Perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this