N-terminal acetylation is an abundant modification influencing protein functions. Because ∼80% of mammalian cytosolic proteins are N-terminally acetylated, this modification is potentially an untapped target for chemical control of their functions. Structural studies have revealed that, like lysine acetylation, N-terminal acetylation converts a positively charged amine into a hydrophobic handle that mediates protein interactions; hence, this modification may be a druggable target. We report the development of chemical probes targeting the N-terminal acetylation–dependent interaction between an E2 conjugating enzyme (UBE2M or UBC12) and DCN1 (DCUN1D1), a subunit of a multiprotein E3 ligase for the ubiquitin-like protein NEDD8. The inhibitors are highly selective with respect to other protein acetyl-amide–binding sites, inhibit NEDD8 ligation in vitro and in cells, and suppress anchorage-independent growth of a cell line with DCN1 amplification. Overall, our data demonstrate that N-terminal acetyl-dependent protein interactions are druggable targets and provide insights into targeting multiprotein E2–E3 ligases.

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Published in Nature Chemical Biology, v. 13, issue 8, p. 850-857.

© 2017 Nature America, Inc., part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Nature Chemical Biology. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.2386

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B.A.S., ALSAC, HHMI, and NIH R37GM069530, P30CA021765; J.T.H., NIH F32GM113310; J.W.H., NIH AG011085; J.A.P., NIH DK098285; J.P., NIH GM114260; SJCRH Proteomics Facility, NIH P30CA021765; American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities.

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Structural data have been deposited in the Protein DataBank (PDB) with coordinate accession numbers 5V83.pdb (DCN1-NAcM-HIT), 5V86.pdb (DCN1-NAcM-OPT), 5V88.pdb (DCN1:NAcM-COV), 5V89.pdb (DCN4PONY:CUL1WHB). All other data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article (and its supplementary information files) or are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Supplementary information is available in the online version of the paper.

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