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Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Nov;27(22):8003-14. Epub 2007 Sep 17.

Geranylgeranyltransferase I inhibitors target RalB to inhibit anchorage-dependent growth and induce apoptosis and RalA to inhibit anchorage-independent growth.

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  • 1Drug Discovery Program, The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa, Florida, USA.


Geranylgeranyltransferase I inhibitors (GGTIs) are presently undergoing advanced preclinical studies and have been shown to disrupt oncogenic and tumor survival pathways, to inhibit anchorage-dependent and -independent growth, and to induce apoptosis. However, the geranylgeranylated proteins that are targeted by GGTIs to induce these effects are not known. Here we provide evidence that the Ras-like small GTPases RalA and RalB are exclusively geranylgeranylated and that inhibition of their geranylgeranylation mediates, at least in part, the effects of GGTIs on anchorage-dependent and -independent growth and tumor apoptosis. To this end, we have created the corresponding carboxyl-terminal mutants that are exclusively farnesylated and verified that they retain the subcellular localization and signaling activities of the wild-type geranylgeranylated proteins and that Ral GTPases do not undergo alternative prenylation in response to GGTI treatment. By expressing farnesylated, GGTI-resistant RalA and RalB in Cos7 cells and human pancreatic MiaPaCa2 cancer cells followed by GGTI-2417 treatment, we demonstrated that farnesylated RalB, but not RalA, confers resistance to the proapoptotic and anti-anchorage-dependent growth effects of GGTI-2417. Conversely, farnesylated RalA but not RalB expression renders MiaPaCa2 cells less sensitive to inhibition of anchorage-independent growth. Furthermore, farnesylated RalB, but not RalA, inhibits the ability of GGTI-2417 to suppress survivin and induce p27(Kip1) protein levels. We conclude that RalA and RalB are important, functionally distinct targets for GGTI-mediated tumor apoptosis and growth inhibition.

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