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Gambogic acid identifies an isoform-specific druggable pocket in the middle domain of Hsp90β


Because of their importance in maintaining protein homeostasis, molecular chaperones, including heat-shock protein 90 (Hsp90), represent attractive drug targets. Although a number of Hsp90 inhibitors are in preclinical/clinical development, none strongly differentiate between constitutively expressed Hsp90β and stress-induced Hsp90α, the two cytosolic paralogs of this molecular chaperone. Thus, the importance of inhibiting one or the other paralog in different disease states remains unknown. We show that the natural product, gambogic acid (GBA), binds selectively to a site in the middle domain of Hsp90β, identifying GBA as an Hsp90β-specific Hsp90 inhibitor. Furthermore, using computational and medicinal chemistry, we identified a GBA analog, referred to as DAP-19, which binds potently and selectively to Hsp90β. Because of its unprecedented selectivity for Hsp90β among all Hsp90 paralogs, GBA thus provides a new chemical tool to study the unique biological role of this abundantly expressed molecular chaperone in health and disease.

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