High affinity for farnesyltransferase and alternative prenylation contribute individually to K-Ras4B resistance to farnesyltransferase inhibitors.
Farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs) block Ras farnesylation, subcellular localization and activity, and inhibit the growth of Ras-transformed cells. Although FTIs are ineffective against K-Ras4B, the Ras isoform most commonly mutated in human cancers, they can inhibit the growth of tumors containing oncogenic K-Ras4B, implicating other farnesylated proteins or suggesting distinct functions for farnesylated and for geranylgeranylated K-Ras, which is generated when farnesyltransferase is inhibited. In addition to bypassing FTI blockade through geranylgeranylation, K-Ras4B resistance to FTIs may also result from its higher affinity for farnesyltransferase. Using chimeric Ras proteins containing all combinations of Ras background, CAAX motif, and K-Ras polybasic domain, we show that either a polybasic domain or an alternatively prenylated CAAX renders Ras prenylation, Ras-induced Elk-1 activation, and anchorage-independent cell growth FTI-resistant. The polybasic domain alone increases the affinity of Ras for farnesyltransferase, implying independent roles for each K-Ras4B sequence element in FTI resistance. Using microarray analysis and colony formation assays, we confirm that K-Ras function is independent of the identity of the prenyl group and, therefore, that FTI inhibition of K-Ras transformed cells is likely to be independent of K-Ras inhibition. Our results imply that relevant FTI targets will lack both polybasic and potentially geranylgeranylated methionine-CAAX motifs.
Fiordalisi, JJ; Johnson, RL; Weinbaum, CA; Sakabe, K; Chen, Z; Casey, PJ; Cox, AD
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