Small molecules

Small molecules are low molecular weight molecules that include lipids, monosaccharides, second messengers, other natural products and metabolites, as well as drugs and other xenobiotics. They are distinct from macromolecules such as proteins. In chemical biology, this term also covers metal ions and in this discipline small molecules may play the role of a chemical tool.

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News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    The limited availability of small-molecule ligands for E3 ubiquitin ligases stymies the development of next-generation degraders. Two recent papers report the identification of novel, covalent and PROTAC-compatible ligands that hijack the previously untargeted ligases RNF114 and DCAF16.

    • Matthias Brand
    •  & Georg E. Winter
  • News and Views |

    The advent of PROTACs that degrade the entire protein target rather than simply inhibiting it bring druggable yet apparently non-functional binding sites into play for medicinal chemists to do their work.

    • Dafydd Owen
  • Comments and Opinion | | open

    The number of chemical compounds and associated experimental data in public databases is growing, but presently there is no simple way to access these data in a quick and synoptic manner. Instead, data are fragmented across different resources and interested parties need to invest invaluable time and effort to navigate these systems.

    • Sten Ilmjärv
    • , Fiona Augsburger
    • , Jerven Tjalling Bolleman
    • , Robin Liechti
    • , Alan James Bridge
    • , Jenny Sandström
    • , Vincent Jaquet
    • , Ioannis Xenarios
    •  & Karl-Heinz Krause
  • News and Views |

    Endocytosis mediates the internalization of proteins and lipids at the plasma membrane and plays essential roles in plant growth and development. A new small molecule enables manipulation of plant endocytosis in an acute and transient manner.

    • Chunhua Zhang
    •  & Glenn R. Hicks
  • News and Views |

    A small molecule was identified that binds to a unique site on the pro-apoptotic protein BAX, stabilizing the protein structure allosterically and preventing the conformational activation to a pore former by BH3 proteins.

    • Jialing Lin