Mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is a master regulator of cellular metabolism, growth, and proliferation. mTORC1 has been implicated in many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and neurodegeneration, and is a target to prolong lifespan. Here we report a small molecule inhibitor (Cbz-B3A) of mTORC1 signaling. Cbz-B3A inhibits the phosphorylation of eIF4E-binding protein 1 (4EBP1) and blocks 68% of translation. In contrast, rapamycin preferentially inhibits the phosphorylation of p70(S6k) and blocks 35% of translation. Cbz-B3A does not appear to bind directly to mTORC1, but instead binds to ubiquilins 1, 2, and 4. Knockdown of ubiquilin 2, but not ubiquilins 1 and 4, decreases the phosphorylation of 4EBP1, suggesting that ubiquilin 2 activates mTORC1. The knockdown of ubiquilins 2 and 4 decreases the effect of Cbz-B3A on 4EBP1 phosphorylation. Cbz-B3A slows cellular growth of some human leukemia cell lines, but is not cytotoxic. Thus Cbz-B3A exemplifies a novel strategy to inhibit mTORC1 signaling that might be exploited for treating many human diseases. We propose that Cbz-B3A reveals a previously unappreciated regulatory pathway coordinating cytosolic protein quality control and mTORC1 signaling.
© 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.