The development of inhibitors against Abl has changed the landscape for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and cancer in general. Beginning with the monumental discovery and approval of imatinib for CML, a second generation of inhibitors, nilotinib and dasatinib, has now gained approval for the treatment of CML. Notably, these second-generation inhibitors are active against many of the mutations in the Abl kinase that confer resistance to imatinib. However, resistance remains a major problem, and new inhibitors such as ponatinib and GNF2/GNF5 have been developed, with activity towards the common gatekeeper T315I mutation. We review here the mechanisms of Abl inhibition with an emphasis on structural elements that are important for the selectivity and design of new molecules. In particular, we focus on how changes in the conformation of the P-loop, the activation loop, the DFG motif, and other structural elements of Abl have been instrumental in developing an understanding of inhibitor binding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-454
Number of pages8
JournalGenes and Cancer
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 1 May 2012


  • X-ray crystal structure
  • dasatinib
  • imatinib
  • nilotinib
  • ponatinib


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