Skp1: Implications in cancer and SCF-oriented anti-cancer drug discovery

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In the last decade, the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS), in general, and E3 ubiquitin ligases, in particular, have emerged as valid drug targets for the development of novel anti-cancer therapeutics. Cullin RING Ligases (CRLs), which can be classified into eight groups (CRL1-8) and comprise approximately 200 members, represent the largest family of E3 ubiquitin ligases which facilitate the ubiquitination-derived proteasomal degradation of a myriad of functionally and structurally diverse substrates. S phase kinase-associated protein 1 (Skp1)-Cullin1-F-Box protein (SCF) complexes are the best characterized among CRLs, which play crucial roles in numerous cellular processes and physiological dysfunctions, such as in cancer biology. Currently, there is growing interest in developing SCF-targeting anti-cancer therapies for clinical application. Indeed, the research in this field has seen some progress in the form of cullin neddylation- and Skp2-inhibitors. However, it still remains an underdeveloped area and needs to design new strategies for developing improved form of therapy. In this review, we venture a novel strategy that rational pharmacological targeting of Skp1, a central regulator of SCF complexes, may provide a novel avenue for SCF-oriented anti-cancer therapy, expected: (i) to simultaneously address the critical roles that multiple SCF oncogenic complexes play in cancer biology, (ii) to selectively target cancer cells with minimal normal cell toxicity, and (iii) to offer multiple chemical series, via therapeutic interventions at the Skp1 binding interfaces in SCF complex, thereby maximizing chances of success for drug discovery. In addition, we also discuss the challenges that might be posed regarding rational pharmacological interventions against Skp1.

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