Protein farnesyltransferase isoprenoid substrate discrimination is dependent on isoprene double bonds and branched methyl groups.

PMID 11591144


Farnesylation is a posttranslational lipid modification in which a 15-carbon farnesyl isoprenoid is linked via a thioether bond to specific cysteine residues of proteins in a reaction catalyzed by protein farnesyltransferase (FTase). We synthesized the benzyloxyisoprenyl pyrophosphate (BnPP) series of transferable farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) analogues (1a-e) to test the length dependence of the isoprenoid substrate on the FTase-catalyzed transfer of lipid to protein substrate. Kinetic analyses show that pyrophosphates 1a-e and geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP) transfer with a lower efficiency than FPP whereas geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) does not transfer at all. While a correlation was found between K(m) and analogue hydrophobicity and length, there was no correlation between k(cat) and these properties. Potential binding geometries of FPP, GPP, GGPP, and analogues 1a-e were examined by modeling the molecules into the active site of the FTase crystal structure. We found that analogue 1d displaces approximately the same volume of the active site as does FPP, whereas GPP and analogues 1a-c occupy lesser volumes and 1e occupies a slightly larger volume. Modeling also indicated that GGPP adopts a different conformation than the farnesyl chain of FPP, partially occluding the space occupied by the Ca(1)a(2)X peptide in the ternary X-ray crystal structure. Within the confines of the FTase pocket, the double bonds and branched methyl groups of the geranylgeranyl chain significantly restrict the number of possible conformations relative to the more flexible lipid chain of analogues 1a-e. The modeling results also provide a molecular explanation for the observation that an aromatic ring is a good isostere for the terminal isoprene of FPP.