5-Aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide 1-?-d-ribofuranoside (AICAR, or acadesine) is a precursor of the monophosphate derivative 5-amino-4-imidazole carboxamide ribonucleoside 5´-phosphate (ZMP), an intermediate in de novo purine biosynthesis. AICAR proved to have promising anti-proliferative properties, although the molecular basis of its toxicity is poorly understood. To exert cytotoxicity, AICAR needs to be metabolized, but the AICAR-derived toxic metabolite was not identified. Here, we show that ZMP is the major toxic derivative of AICAR in yeast and establish that its metabolization to succinyl-ZMP, ZDP, or ZTP (di- and triphosphate derivatives of AICAR) strongly reduced its toxicity. Affinity chromatography identified 74 ZMP-binding proteins, including 41 that were found neither as AMP nor as AICAR or succinyl-ZMP binders. Overexpression of karyopherin-? Kap123, one of the ZMP-specific binders, partially rescued AICAR toxicity. Quantitative proteomic analyses revealed 57 proteins significantly less abundant on nuclei-enriched fractions from AICAR-fed cells, this effect being compensated by overexpression of KAP123 for 15 of them. These results reveal nuclear protein trafficking as a function affected by AICAR.