The proteasomal pathway of protein degradation involves two discrete steps: ubiquitination and degradation. Blocking protein
degradation by inhibiting the proteasome has well described biologic effects and proteasome inhibitors are approved for the treatment of
multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma. In contrast, the biological effects and potential therapeutic utility of inhibiting the ubiquitination
cascade and the initiating enzyme UBA1 are less well understood. UBA1 is the initial enzyme in the ubiquitination cascade and
initiates the transfer of ubiquitin molecules to target proteins where they are degraded by the proteasome. Here, we review the biological
effects of UBA1 inhibition and discuss UBA1 inhibitors as potential anti-cancer agents. Similar to proteasome inhibition, blocking UBA1
elicits an unfolded protein response and induces cell death in malignant cells over normal cells. Chemical UBA1 inhibitors have been developed
that target different regions of the enzyme and inhibit its function through different mechanisms. These molecules are useful
tools to understand the biology of UBA1 and highlight the potential of inhibiting this target for the treatment of malignancy.
Keywords: Ubiquitin, proteasome, UBA1.
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