Chem Biol Drug Des. 2022 Aug 4. doi: 10.1111/cbdd.14125. Online ahead of print.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is an oncogenic driver and key therapeutic target for human cancers. Current therapies targeting HER2 are primarily based on overexpression of the wild-type form of HER2. However, kinase domain mutations have been identified that can increase the activity of HER2 even when expressed at basal levels. Using purified enzymes, we confirmed the hyperactivity of two HER2 mutants (D769Y and P780insGSP). To identify small molecule inhibitors against these cancer-associated variants, we used a combined approach consisting of biochemical testing, similarity-based searching, and in silico modeling. These approaches resulted in the identification of a candidate molecule that inhibits mutant forms of HER2 in vitro and in cell-based assays. Our structural model predicts that the compound takes advantage of water-mediated interactions in the HER2 kinase binding pocket.