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Mol Microbiol. 1994 Jan;11(2):219-25.

Protein prenylation in eukaryotic microorganisms: genetics, biology and biochemistry.

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Department of Cancer Research, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, Pennsylvania 19486.


Modification of proteins at C-terminal cysteine residue(s) by the isoprenoids farnesyl (C15) and geranylgeranyl (C20) is essential for the biological function of a number of eukaryotic proteins including fungal mating factors and the small, GTP-binding proteins of the Ras superfamily. Three distinct enzymes, conserved between yeast and mammals, have been identified that prenylate proteins: farnesyl protein transferase, geranylgeranyl protein transferase type I and geranylgeranyl protein transferase type II. Each prenyl protein transferase has its own protein substrate specificity. Much has been learned about the biology, genetics and biochemistry of protein prenylation and prenyl protein transferases through studies of eukaryotic microorganisms, particularly Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The functional importance of protein prenylation was first demonstrated with fungal mating factors. The initial genetic analysis of prenyl protein transferases was in S. cerevisiae with the isolation and subsequent characterization of mutations in the RAM1, RAM2, CDC43 and BET2 genes, each of which encodes a prenyl protein transferase subunit. We review here these and other studies on protein prenylation in eukaryotic microbes and how they relate to and have contributed to our knowledge about protein prenylation in all eukaryotic cells.

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