Coibamide A Targets Sec61 to Prevent Biogenesis of Secretory and Membrane Proteins

Coibamide A (CbA) is a marine natural product with potent antiproliferative activity against human cancer cells and a unique selectivity profile. Despite promising antitumor activity, the mechanism of cytotoxicity and specific cellular target remain unknown. Here, we develop an optimized synthetic CbA photoaffinity probe (photo-CbA) and use it to demonstrate that CbA directly targets the Sec61α subunit of the trimeric Sec61 translocon. CbA binding to Sec61 results in broad substrate-nonselective inhibition of ER protein import and potent cytotoxicity against specific cancer cell lines. CbA targets a lumenal cavity of Sec61α that is partially shared with known Sec61 inhibitors, yet profiling against resistance conferring Sec61α mutations identified from human HCT116 cells suggests a distinct binding mode for CbA. Specifically, despite conferring strong resistance to all previously known Sec61 inhibitors, the Sec61α mutant R66I remains sensitive to CbA. A further unbiased screen for Sec61α resistance mutations identified the CbA-resistant mutation S71P, which confirms non-identical binding sites for CbA and apratoxin A and supports the susceptibility of the Sec61 plug region for channel inhibition. Remarkably, CbA, apratoxin A andipomoeassin F do not display comparable patterns of potency and selectivity in the NCI60 panel of human cancer cell lines.Our work connecting CbA activity with selective prevention of secretory and membrane protein biogenesis by inhibition of Sec61 opens up possibilities for developing new Sec61 inhibitors with improved drug-like properties that are based on the coibamide pharmacophore.