Bringing Functional Context to Emerging Proximity-mapping Proteomics Tools

Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology Highlights


  • Yimon Aye Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)



If one considers chemical-biology toolsets that have had the greatest impact on numerous fields of life sciences over the most recent years, proximity-labeling tools, such as APEX, and Bio-ID arguably lead the way. This article reflects upon the current state-of-the-art and discusses key limitations underlying these emerging approaches, in particular, the limited functional knowledge they provide in understanding local proteomes / interactomes. This limitation is directly linked to the use of non-biologically- or non-pharmaceutically-relevant reactive intermediates in the course of covalently labeling the local proteomes. As such, these methods cannot report on specific functions of localized protein players, nor can they scrutinize whether the specific functions of such proteins/interactomes can be directly manipulated by pharmacologically-relevant small-molecule ligands. The latest data hint that precision localized electrophile delivery concept ushers a means to address this limitation with high spatiotemporal resolution, and ultimately, in relevant live animals.