The Journal of biological chemistry

Efficient use of exogenous isoprenols for protein isoprenylation by MDA-MB-231 cells is regulated independently of the mevalonate pathway.

PMID 23908355


Mammalian cells can use exogenous isoprenols to generate isoprenoid diphosphate substrates for protein isoprenylation, but the mechanism, efficiency, and biological importance of this process are not known. We developed mass spectrometry-based methods using chemical probes and newly synthesized stable isotope-labeled tracers to quantitate incorporation of exogenously provided farnesol, geranylgeraniol, and unnatural analogs of these isoprenols containing an aniline group into isoprenoid diphosphates and protein isoprenylcysteines by cultured human cancer cell lines. We found that at exogenous isoprenol concentrations >10 μM, this process can generate as much as 50% of the cellular isoprenoid diphosphate pool used for protein isoprenylation. Mutational activation of p53 in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells up-regulates the mevalonate pathway to promote tumor invasiveness. p53 silencing or pharmacological inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase in these cells decreases protein isoprenylation from endogenously synthesized isoprenoids but enhances the use of exogenous isoprenols for this purpose, indicating that this latter process is regulated independently of the mevalonate pathway. Our observations suggest unique opportunities for design of cancer cell-directed therapies and may provide insights into mechanisms underlying pleiotropic therapeutic benefits and unwanted side effects of mevalonate pathway inhibition.

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(RS)-Mevalonic acid lithium salt, ≥96.0% (GC)
C6H11O4 · xLi+
(RS)-Mevalonic acid lithium salt, analytical standard
C6H11O4 · xLi+