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Plant Physiol. 1995 Sep;109(1):277-284.

Changes in Protein Isoprenylation during the Growth of Suspension-Cultured Tobacco Cells.

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  • 1Biology Department, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, 723 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202-5132.


Isoprenylation facilitates the association of proteins with intracellular membranes and/or other proteins. In mammalian and yeast cells, isoprenylated proteins are involved in signal transduction, cell division, organization of the cytoskeleton, and vesicular transport. Recently, protein isoprenylation has been demonstrated in higher plants, but little is currently known about the functions of isoprenylated plant proteins. We report that inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (lovastatin) or prenyl:protein transferases (perilly alcohol) severely impair the growth of cultured tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) cells but only when added within the first 2 d following transfer to fresh medium, before any increase in culture volume is detectable. This "window" of sensitivity to inhibitors of protein isoprenylation correlates temporally with an increase in [14C]mevalonate incorporation into tobacco cell proteins in vitro. We have also observed a marked increase in farnesyl:protein transferase activity at this early time in the growth of tobacco cultures. In contrast, type I geranylgeranyl:protein transferase activity does not change significantly during culture growth. Although these events coincide with the replication of DNA, I [mu]M lovastatin-treated cells are capable of DNA synthesis, suggesting that lovastatin-induced cell growth arrest is not due to inhibition of DNA replication. Together, these data support the hypothesis that protein isoprenylation is necessary for the early stages of growth of tobacco cultures.

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