Stimuli-activatable PROTACs for precise protein degradation and cancer therapy

Jing Gao, Lei Yang, Shumin Lei, Feng Zhou, Huijun Nie, Bo Peng, Tianfeng Xu, Xiaohua Chen, Xiaobao Yang, Chunquan Sheng, Yu Rao, Kanyi Pu, Jian Jin, Zhiai Xu, Haijun Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs) approach has attracted extensive attention in the past decade, which represents an emerging therapeutic modality with the potential to tackle disease-causing proteins that are historically challengeable for conventional small molecular inhibitors. PROTAC harnesses the endogenic E3 ubiquitin ligase to degrade protein of interest (POI) via ubiquitin–proteasome system in a cycle-catalytic manner. The event-driven pharmacology of PROTAC is poised to pursue those targets that are conventionally undruggable, which enormously extends the space of drug development. Furthermore, PROTAC has the potential to address drug resistance of small molecular inhibitors by degrading the whole POI. Nevertheless, PROTACs display high-efficiency and always-on properties to degrade POI, they may cause severe side effects due to an “on-target but off-tissue” protein degradation profile at the undesirable tissues and cells. Given that, the stimuli-activatable PROTAC prodrugs have been recently exploited to confine precise protein degradation of the favorable targets, which may conquer the adverse effects of PROTAC due to uncontrollable protein degradation. Herein, we summarized the cutting-edge advances of the stimuli-activatable PROTAC prodrugs. We also overviewed the progress of PROTAC prodrug-based nanomedicine to improve PROTAC delivery to the tumors and precise POI degradation in the targeted cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1069-1085
Number of pages17
JournalScience Bulletin
Issue number10
StatePublished - 30 May 2023


  • Combinatory therapy
  • Nanomedicine
  • Precise protein degradation
  • Stimuli-activatable prodrug


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