Pharmacological chaperone therapy is an emerging counterintuitive approach to treat protein deficiencies resulting from mutations causing misfolded protein conformations. Active-site-specific chaperones (ASSCs) are enzyme active-site directed small molecule pharmacological chaperones that act as a folding template to assist protein folding of mutant proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). As a result, excessive degradation of mutant proteins in the ER-associated degradation (ERAD) machinery can be prevented, thus restoring enzyme activity. Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) are suitable candidates for ASSC treatment, as the levels of enzyme activity needed to prevent substrate storage are relatively low. In addition, ASSCs are orally active small molecules and have potential to gain access to most cell types to treat neuronopathic LSDs. Competitive enzyme inhibitors are effective ASSCs when they are used at sub-inhibitory concentrations. This whole new paradigm provides excellent opportunity for identifying specific drugs to treat a broad range of inherited disorders. This review describes protein misfolding as a pathophysiological cause in LSDs and provides an overview of recent advances in the development of pharmacological chaperone therapy for the diseases. In addition, a generalized guidance for the design and screening of ASSCs is also presented.
©2008 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York