PROTAC antibiotics: the time is now

Jickky Palmae Sarathy, Courtney C. Aldrich, Mei Lin Go, Thomas Dick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Novel antibiotics are needed to keep antibiotic resistance at bay and to improve treatment of the many drug-susceptible infections for which current therapies achieve poor cure rates. While revolutionizing human therapeutics, the concept of targeted protein degradation (TPD) by bifunctional proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs) has not yet been applied to the discovery of antibiotics. A major obstacle precluding successful translation of this strategy to antibiotic development is that bacteria lack the E3 ligase-proteasome system exploited by human PROTACs to facilitate target degradation. Areas covered: The authors describe the serendipitous discovery of the first monofunctional target-degrading antibiotic pyrazinamide, supporting TPD as a viable and novel approach in antibiotic discovery. They then discuss the rational design, mechanism, and activity of the first bifunctional antibacterial target degrader BacPROTAC, enabling a generalizable approach to TPD in bacteria. Expert opinion: BacPROTACs demonstrate that linking a target directly to a bacterial protease complex can promote target degradation. BacPROTACs successfully bypass the ‘middleman’ E3 ligase, providing an entry strategy for the generation of antibacterial PROTACs. We speculate that antibacterial PROTACs will not only expand the target space but may also improve treatment by allowing dosage reduction, stronger bactericidal activity and activity against drug-tolerant ‘persisters.’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-370
Number of pages8
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Discovery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are supported by a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01AI32374.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Antibacterial drug discovery
  • proteolysis targeting chimeras
  • targeted protein degradation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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