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J Lipid Res. 2012 Jun;53(6):1176-82. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M026161. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Inhibitors of protein geranylgeranyltransferase-I lead to prelamin A accumulation in cells by inhibiting ZMPSTE24.

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Department of Medicine and University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Protein farnesyltransferase (FTase) inhibitors, generally called "FTIs," block the farnesylation of prelamin A, inhibiting the biogenesis of mature lamin A and leading to an accumulation of prelamin A within cells. A recent report found that a GGTI, an inhibitor of protein geranylgeranyltransferase-I (GGTase-I), caused an exaggerated accumulation of prelamin A in the presence of low amounts of an FTI. This finding was interpreted as indicating that prelamin A can be alternately prenylated by GGTase-I and that inhibiting both protein prenyltransferases leads to more prelamin A accumulation than blocking FTase alone. Here, we tested an alternative hypothesis-GGTIs are not specific for GGTase-I, and they lead to prelamin A accumulation by inhibiting ZMPSTE24 (a zinc metalloprotease that converts farnesyl-prelamin A to mature lamin A). In our studies, commonly used GGTIs caused prelamin A accumulation in human fibroblasts, but the prelamin A in GGTI-treated cells exhibited a more rapid electrophoretic mobility than prelamin A from FTI-treated cells. The latter finding suggested that the prelamin A in GGTI-treated cells might be farnesylated (which would be consistent with the notion that GGTIs inhibit ZMPSTE24). Indeed, metabolic labeling studies revealed that the prelamin A in GGTI-treated fibroblasts is farnesylated. Moreover, biochemical assays of ZMPSTE24 activity showed that ZMPSTE24 is potently inhibited by a GGTI. Our studies show that GGTIs inhibit ZMPSTE24, leading to an accumulation of farnesyl-prelamin A. Thus, caution is required when interpreting the effects of GGTIs on prelamin A processing.

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