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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Apr 11;92(8):3333-7.

Ras farnesyltransferase inhibitors suppress the phenotype resulting from an activated ras mutation in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0347, USA.


Attachment of Ras protein to the membrane, which requires farnesylation at its C terminus, is essential for its biological activity. A promising pharmacological approach of antagonizing oncogenic Ras activity is to develop inhibitors of farnesyltransferase. We use Caenorhabditis elegans vulval differentiation, which is controlled by a Ras-mediated signal transduction pathway, as a model system to test previously identified farnesyltransferase inhibitors. We show here that two farnesyltransferase inhibitors, manumycin and gliotoxin, suppress the Multivulva phenotype resulting from an activated let-60 ras mutation, but not the Multivulva phenotype resulting from mutations in the lin-1 gene or the lin-15 gene, which act downstream and upstream of let-60 ras, respectively, in the signaling pathway. These results are consistent with the idea that the suppression of the Multivulva phenotype of let-60 ras by the two inhibitors is specific for Ras protein and that the mutant Ras protein might be more sensitive than wild-type Ras to the farnesyltransferase inhibitors. This work suggests that C. elegans vulval development could be a simple and effective in vivo system for evaluation of farnesyltransferase inhibitors against Ras-activated tumors.

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