Charlotte Rimbault, Kashyap Maruthi, Christelle Breillat, Camille Genuer, Sara Crespillo, Virginia Puente-Muñoz, Ingrid Chamma, Isabel Gauthereau, Ségolène Antoine, Coraline Thibaut, Fabienne Wong Jun Tai, Benjamin Dartigues, Dolors Grillo-Bosch, Stéphane Claverol, Christel Poujol, Daniel Choquet, Cameron D Mackereth, Matthieu Sainlos
Designing highly specific modulators of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) is especially challenging in the context of multiple paralogs and conserved interaction surfaces. In this case, direct generation of selective and competitive inhibitors is hindered by high similarity within the evolutionary-related protein interfaces. We report here a strategy that uses a semi-rational approach to separate the modulator design into two functional parts. We first achieve specificity toward a region outside of the interface by using phage display selection coupled with molecular and cellular validation. Highly selective competition is then generated by appending the more degenerate interaction peptide to contact the target interface. We apply this approach to specifically bind a single PDZ domain within the postsynaptic protein PSD-95 over highly similar PDZ domains in PSD-93, SAP-97 and SAP-102. Our work provides a paralog-selective and domain specific inhibitor of PSD-95, and describes a method to efficiently target other conserved PPI modules.