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1.  High-Throughput Screening AlphaScreen Assay for Identification of Small-Molecule Inhibitors of Ubiquitin E3 Ligase SCFSkp2-Cks1 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2013;18(8):910-920.
Decreased levels of cell cycle inhibitor p27Kip1 due to excessive degradation occur in a variety of aggressive human tumors. Since reduced p27Kip1 expression has been associated with a poor prognosis in many human cancers and resistance to certain antitumor therapies, elevation of p27Kip1 expression could improve prognosis and prevent excessive cell proliferation. SCFSkp2 is one of the major ubiquitin E3 ligases responsible for degradation of p27Kip1. Ubiquitination of p27Kip1 also requires a small adaptor protein, Cks1, which facilitates substrate recruitment by bridging the interaction between Skp2 and p27Kip1. It has been shown previously that a direct interaction between Cks1 and Skp2 is required for p27Kip1 degradation. Accordingly, perturbation of the Skp2-Cks1 interaction may represent an attractive target for pharmacological intervention. Here we describe a high-throughput AlphaScreen assay for discovering small-molecule inhibitors of the Skp2-Cks1 protein-protein interaction in vitro. Two compounds (NSC689857 and NSC681152) were identified and validated through a structure-activity relationship analysis. Both compounds were also shown to inhibit p27Kip1 ubiquitination in vitro. These studies demonstrate that disruption of the Skp2-Cks1 interaction provides a viable strategy to prevent p27Kip1 ubiquitination and may potentially be useful for the control of excessive degradation of this cell cycle inhibitor in tumor cells.
doi:10.1177/1087057113485789
PMCID: PMC4168015  PMID: 23589337
E3 ligase; inhibitor; Skp2; Cks1; p27kip1; ubiquitin; proteolysis
2.  Identification and Mechanistic Studies of a Novel Ubiquitin E1 Inhibitor 
Journal of Biomolecular Screening  2012;17(4):421-434.
Protein degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway is important for a diverse number of cellular processes ranging from cell signaling to development. Disruption of the ubiquitin pathway occurs in a variety of human diseases, including several cancers and neurological disorders. Excessive proteolysis of tumor suppressor proteins, such as p27, occurs in numerous aggressive human tumors. To discover small-molecule inhibitors that potentially prevent p27 degradation, we developed a series of screening assays, including a cell-based screen of a small-molecule compound library and two novel nucleotide exchange assays. Several small-molecule inhibitors, including NSC624206, were identified and subsequently verified to prevent p27 ubiquitination in vitro. The mechanism of NSC624206 inhibition of p27 ubiquitination was further unraveled using the nucleotide exchange assays and shown to be due to antagonizing ubiquitin activating enzyme (E1). We determined that NSC624206 and PYR-41, a recently reported inhibitor of ubiquitin E1, specifically block ubiquitin-thioester formation but have no effect on ubiquitin adenylation. These studies reveal a novel E1 inhibitor that targets a specific step of the E1 activation reaction. NSC624206 could, therefore, be potentially useful for the control of excessive ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis in vivo.
doi:10.1177/1087057111433843
PMCID: PMC3339042  PMID: 22274912
ubiquitin E1; inhibitor; p27kip1; ubiquitin; proteolysis
3.  Largazole and Its Derivatives Selectively Inhibit Ubiquitin Activating Enzyme (E1) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29208.
Protein ubiquitination plays an important role in the regulation of almost every aspect of eukaryotic cellular function; therefore, its destabilization is often observed in most human diseases and cancers. Consequently, developing inhibitors of the ubiquitination system for the treatment of cancer has been a recent area of interest. Currently, only a few classes of compounds have been discovered to inhibit the ubiquitin-activating enzyme (E1) and only one class is relatively selective in E1 inhibition in cells. We now report that Largazole and its ester and ketone analogs selectively inhibit ubiquitin conjugation to p27Kip1 and TRF1 in vitro. The inhibitory activity of these small molecules on ubiquitin conjugation has been traced to their inhibition of the ubiquitin E1 enzyme. To further dissect the mechanism of E1 inhibition, we analyzed the effects of these inhibitors on each of the two steps of E1 activation. We show that Largazole and its derivatives specifically inhibit the adenylation step of the E1 reaction while having no effect on thioester bond formation between ubiquitin and E1. E1 inhibition appears to be specific to human E1 as Largazole ketone fails to inhibit the activation of Uba1p, a homolog of E1 in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Moreover, Largazole analogs do not significantly inhibit SUMO E1. Thus, Largazole and select analogs are a novel class of ubiquitin E1 inhibitors and valuable tools for studying ubiquitination in vitro. This class of compounds could be further developed and potentially be a useful tool in cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029208
PMCID: PMC3261141  PMID: 22279528
4.  A Concise Total Synthesis of Largazole, Solution Structure, and Some Preliminary Structure Activity Relationships 
Organic letters  2008;10(16):3595-3598.
A total synthesis of largazole that proceeds in 8 steps from commercial materials is reported, along with some structure-activity relationships. A combination of NMR studies and molecular modeling have also provided a preliminary picture of the conformation of largazole.
doi:10.1021/ol8013478
PMCID: PMC2664405  PMID: 18616341
5.  Ubiquitination and Proteolysis of Cancer-Derived Smad4 Mutants by SCFSkp2 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(17):7524-7537.
Smad4/DPC4, a common signal transducer in transforming growth factor beta (TGF-╬▓) signaling, is frequently inactivated in human cancer. Although the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway has been established as one mechanism of inactivating Smad4 in cancer, the specific ubiquitin E3 ligase for ubiquitination-mediated proteolysis of Smad4 cancer mutants remains unclear. In this report, we identified the SCFSkp2 complex as candidate Smad4-interacting proteins in an antibody array-based screen and further elucidated the functions of SCFSkp2 in mediating the metabolic instability of cancer-derived Smad4 mutants. We found that Skp2, the F-box component of SCFSkp2, physically interacted with Smad4 at the physiological levels. Several cancer-derived unstable mutants exhibited significantly increased binding to Skp2, which led to their increased ubiquitination and accelerated proteolysis. These results suggest an important role for the SCFSkp2 complex in switching cancer mutants of Smad4 to undergo polyubiquitination-dependent degradation.
doi:10.1128/MCB.24.17.7524-7537.2004
PMCID: PMC506984  PMID: 15314162

Results 1-5 (5)