Cell Chemical Biology
Tumor suppressor genes represent a major class of oncogenic drivers. However, direct targeting of loss-of-function tumor suppressors remains challenging. To address this gap, we explored a variant-directed chemical biology approach to reverse the lost function of tumor suppressors using SMAD4 as an example. SMAD4, a central mediator of the TGF-β pathway, is recurrently mutated in many tumors. Here, we report the development of a TR-FRET technology that recapitulated the dynamic differential interaction of SMAD4 and SMAD4R361H with SMAD3 and identified Ro-31-8220, a bisindolylmaleimide derivative, as a SMAD4R361H/SMAD3 interaction inducer. Ro-31-8220 reactivated the dormant SMAD4R361H-mediated transcriptional activity and restored TGF-β-induced tumor suppression activity in SMAD4 mutant cancer cells. Thus, demonstration of Ro-31-8220 as a SMAD4R361H/SMAD3 interaction inducer illustrates a general strategy to reverse the lost function of tumor suppressors with hypomorph mutations and supports a systematic approach to develop small-molecule protein-protein interaction (PPI) molecular glues for biological insights and therapeutic discovery.