Targeted inactivation of the isoprenylcysteine carboxyl methyltransferase gene causes mislocalization of K-Ras in mammalian cells.
After isoprenylation and endoproteolytic processing, the Ras proteins are methylated at the carboxyl-terminal isoprenylcysteine. The importance of isoprenylation for targeting of Ras proteins to the plasma membrane is well established, but the importance of carboxyl methylation, which is carried out by isoprenylcysteine carboxyl methyltransferase (Icmt), is less certain. We used gene targeting to produce homozygous Icmt knockout embryonic stem cells (Icmt-/-). Lysates from Icmt-/- cells lacked the ability to methylate farnesyl-K-Ras4B or small-molecule Icmt substrates such as N-acetyl-S-geranylgeranyl-L-cysteine. To assess the impact of absent Icmt activity on the localization of K-Ras within cells, wild-type and Icmt-/- cells were transfected with a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-K-Ras fusion construct. As expected, virtually all of the GFP-K-Ras fusion in wild-type cells was localized along the plasma membrane. In contrast, a large fraction of the fusion in Icmt-/- cells was trapped within the cytoplasm, and fluorescence at the plasma membrane was reduced. Also, cell fractionation/Western blot studies revealed that a smaller fraction of the K-Ras in Icmt-/- cells was associated with the membranes. We conclude that carboxyl methylation of the isoprenylcysteine is important for proper K-Ras localization in mammalian cells.
Bergo, MO; Leung, GK; Ambroziak, P; Otto, JC; Casey, PJ; Young, SG
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