Targeting the Toll-like Receptor/Interleukin 1 Receptor Pathway in Human Diseases: Rational Design of MyD88 Inhibitors

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Toll-like receptor (TLR)/interleukin (IL) 1 receptor (IL-1R) play a fundamental role in the immune response. These receptors are distributed in various cellular compartments and recognize different components of pathogens. All TLR/IL-1Rs, with the exception of TLR3, interact with MyD88, an intracellular adapter protein that triggers a signaling cascade that culminates in the expression of inflammatory genes. Because aberrant activation of TLR/IL-1Rs can promote the onset of inflammatory or autoimmune diseases and malignancies, this pathway has attracted considerable interest as a potential therapeutic target. Given the central role of MyD88 in TLR/IL-1R signaling, we set out different strategies to develop drugs that can block its function. Structural and functional analysis of the MyD88 domains allowed us to identify crucial residues required for MyD88 homodimerization. Moreover, we developed small cell-permeable peptides and peptidomimetic agents that inhibit MyD88 homodimerization and function. Our results pave the way for the development of new therapeutic drugs for the inhibition of MyD88-dependent signaling.

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