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Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Mar;20(6):2158-66.

The branch point enzyme of the mevalonate pathway for protein prenylation is overexpressed in the ob/ob mouse and induced by adipogenesis.

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  • 1Research Division, Joslin Diabetes Center, and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


We have recently reported that skeletal muscle of the ob/ob mouse, an animal model of genetic obesity with extreme insulin resistance, exhibits alterations in the expression of multiple genes. Analysis and cloning of a full-length cDNA of one of the overexpressed mRNAs revealed a 300-amino-acid protein that could be identified as the mouse geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase (GGPP synthase) based on its homology to proteins cloned from yeast and fungus. GGPP synthase catalyzes the synthesis of all-trans-geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP), an isoprenoid used for protein isoprenylation in animal cells, and is a branch point enzyme in the mevalonic acid pathway. Three mRNAs for GGPP synthase of 4.3, 3.2, and 1.7 kb were detected in Northern blot analysis. Western blot analysis of tissue homogenates using specific antipeptide antibodies revealed a single band of 34.8 kDa. Expression level of this protein in different tissues correlated with expression of the 4.3- and 3.2-kb mRNAs. GGPP synthase mRNA expression was increased 5- to 20-fold in skeletal muscle, liver, and fat of ob/ob mice by Northern blot analysis. Western blot analysis also showed a twofold overexpression of the protein in muscle and fat but not in liver, where the dominant isoform is encoded by the 1.7-kb mRNA. Differentiation of 3T3-L1 fibroblasts into adipocytes induced GGPP synthase expression more than 20-fold. Using the immunoprecipitated protein, we found that mammalian GGPP synthase synthesizes not only GGPP but also its metabolic precursor farnesyl diphosphate. Thus, the expression of GGPP synthase is regulated in multiple tissues in obesity and is induced during adipocyte differentiation. Altered regulation in the synthesis of isoprenoids for protein prenylation in obesity might be a factor determining the ability of the cells to respond to hormonal stimulation requiring both Ras-related small GTPases and trimeric G protein-coupled receptors.

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