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Squalene synthase (SQS) is an essential enzyme in the mevalonate pathway, which controls cholesterol biosynthesis and homeostasis. Although catalytic inhibitors of SQS have been developed, none have been approved for therapeutic use so far. Herein we sought to develop SQS degraders using targeted protein degradation (TPD) to lower overall cellular cholesterol content. We found that KY02111, a small molecule ligand of SQS, selectively causes SQS to degrade in a proteasome-dependent manner. Unexpectedly, compounds based on the same scaffold linked to E3 ligase recruiting ligands led to SQS stabilization. Proteomic analysis found KY02111 to reduce only the levels of SQS, while lipidomic analysis determined that KY02111-induced degradation lowered cellular cholesteryl ester content. Stabilizers shielded SQS from its natural turnover without recruiting their matching E3 ligase or affecting enzymatic target activity. Our work shows that degradation of SQS is possible despite a challenging biological setting and provides the first chemical tools to degrade and stabilize SQS.

Original publication




Journal article


Chem sci

Publication Date





12973 - 12983