Saturday, August 5, 2017

Recent Developments in JAK3 Inhibition: Isoform Selectivity by Covalent Targeting of Cys909

Michael Forster, Matthias Gehringer,  Stefan A. Laufer
doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2017.07.079

Janus kinases (JAKs) are a family of four cytosolic protein kinases with a high degree of structural similarity. Due to its very restricted role in immune regulation, JAK3 was promoted as an excellent target for immunosuppression for more than a decade, but clinical validation of this concept is still elusive. During the last years, speculation arose that kinase activity of JAK1, which cooperates with JAK3 in cytokine receptor signaling, may have a dominant role over the one of JAK3. Until recently, however, this issue could not be appropriately addressed due a lack of highly isoform-selective tool compounds. With the recent resurgence of covalent drugs, targeting of a specific cysteine that distinguishes JAK3 from the other JAK family members became an attractive design option. By applying this strategy, a set of JAK3 inhibitors with excellent selectivity against other JAK isoforms and the kinome was developed within the last three years and used to decipher JAK3-dependent signaling. The data obtained with these tool compounds demonstrates that selective JAK3 inhibition is sufficient to block downstream signaling. Since one of these inhibitors is currently under evaluation in phase II clinical studies against several inflammatory disorders, it will soon become apparent whether selective JAK3 inhibition translates into clinical efficacy.

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