Inhibition of Canonical NF-κB Signaling by a Small Molecule Targeting NEMO-Ubiquitin Interaction

Scientific Reports, 6, Article number: 18934, doi:10.1038/srep18934

Scientific Reports, online article

The IκB kinase (IKK) complex acts as the gatekeeper of canonical NF-κB signaling, thereby regulating immunity, inflammation and cancer. It consists of the catalytic subunits IKKα and IKKβ and the regulatory subunit NEMO/IKKγ. Here, we show that the ubiquitin binding domain (UBAN) in NEMO is essential for IKK/NF-κB activation in response to TNFα, but not IL-1β stimulation. By screening a natural compound library we identified an anthraquinone derivative that acts as an inhibitor of NEMO-ubiquitin binding (iNUB). Using biochemical and NMR experiments we demonstrate that iNUB binds to NEMOUBAN and competes for interaction with methionine-1-linked linear ubiquitin chains. iNUB inhibited NF-κB activation upon UBAN-dependent TNFα and TCR/CD28, but not UBAN-independent IL-1β stimulation. Moreover, iNUB was selectively killing lymphoma cells that are addicted to chronic B-cell receptor triggered IKK/NF-κB activation. Thus, iNUB disrupts the NEMO-ubiquitin protein-protein interaction interface and thereby inhibits physiological and pathological NF-κB signaling.


TU München
Helmholtz München
MPI of Neurobiology
MPI of Biochemistry