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The emerging field of chemical genetics: potential applications for pesticide discovery



The use of small molecules to probe biological systems, generally described as ‘chemical genetics’, has grown considerably in the past 7 years, especially in areas related to human biology and therapeutics. This review describes some aspects of chemical genetics technologies that can be usefully applied to pesticide target discovery and lead generation. The chemical genetics approach (consisting of a phenotype screen, a chemical library and a robust target identification methodology) is compared with conventional and target-based screening. The outcomes of a chemical genetics approach are novel protein targets coupled with in vivo-active chemical ligands. The ‘chemistry-first’ paradigm of the chemical genetics approach can circumvent some of the obstacles that have emerged for the exploitation of novel but chemically unvalidated targets identified from genetic or genomic screens. Some of the advantages and challenges in using chemical genetics approaches are reviewed. Copyright © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry