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Biochemistry. 2000 Jul 18;39(28):8298-307.

Mutational and biochemical analysis of plasma membrane targeting mediated by the farnesylated, polybasic carboxy terminus of K-ras4B.

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Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3G 1Y6.


Mutational analysis and in vitro assays of membrane association have been combined to investigate the mechanism of plasma membrane targeting mediated by the farnesylated, polybasic carboxy-terminal sequence of K-ras4B in mammalian cells. Fluorescence-microscopic localization of chimeric proteins linking the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) to the K-ras4B carboxy-terminal sequence, or to variant forms of this sequence, reveals that the normal structure of this targeting motif can be greatly altered without compromising plasma membrane-targeting activity so long as an overall strongly polybasic/amphiphilic character is retained. An EGFP/K-ras4B(171-188) chimeric protein was readily abstracted from isolated cell membranes by negatively charged lipid vesicles, and this abstraction was markedly enhanced by the anionic lipid-binding agent neomycin. Our results strongly favor a mechanism in which at the plasma membrane the carboxy-terminal sequence of K-ras4B associates not with a classical specific proteinaceous receptor but rather with nonspecific but highly anionic 'sites' formed at least in part by the membrane lipid bilayer. Our findings also suggest that the recently demonstrated prenylation-dependent trafficking of immature forms of K-ras4B through the endoplasmic reticulum [Choy et al. (1999) Cell 98, 69-80], while required for maturation of the protein, beyond this stage may not be essential to allow the ultimate delivery of the mature protein to the plasma membrane.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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