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Chemical Phosphoproteomics Sheds New Light on the Targets and Modes of Action of AKT Inhibitors

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journal contribution
posted on 23.03.2021, 17:07 by Svenja Wiechmann, Benjamin Ruprecht, Theresa Siekmann, Runsheng Zheng, Martin Frejno, Elena Kunold, Thomas Bajaj, Daniel P. Zolg, Stephan A. Sieber, Nils C. Gassen, Bernhard Kuster
Due to its important roles in oncogenic signaling, AKT has been subjected to extensive drug discovery efforts leading to small molecule inhibitors investigated in advanced clinical trials. To better understand how these drugs exert their therapeutic effects at the molecular level, we combined chemoproteomic target affinity profiling using kinobeads and phosphoproteomics to analyze the five clinical AKT inhibitors AZD5363 (Capivasertib), GSK2110183 (Afuresertib), GSK690693, Ipatasertib, and MK-2206 in BT-474 breast cancer cells. Kinobead profiling identified between four and 29 nM targets for these compounds and showed that AKT1 and AKT2 were the only common targets. Similarly, measuring the response of the phosphoproteome to the same inhibitors identified ∼1700 regulated phosphorylation sites, 276 of which were perturbed by all five compounds. This analysis expanded the known AKT signaling network by 119 phosphoproteins that may represent direct or indirect targets of AKT. Within this new network, 41 regulated phosphorylation sites harbor the AKT substrate motif, and recombinant kinase assays validated 16 as novel AKT substrates. These included CEP170 and FAM83H, suggesting a regulatory function of AKT in mitosis and cytoskeleton organization. In addition, a specific phosphorylation pattern on the ULK1-FIP200-ATG13-VAPB complex was found to determine the active state of ULK1, leading to elevated autophagy in response to AKT inhibition.