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J Cell Physiol. 1993 May;155(2):340-8.

Mevalonate controls cytoskeleton organization and cell morphology in thyroid epithelial cells.

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CEOS/CNR, Università di Napoli, Italy.


Blockade of mevalonate synthesis by the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl Coenzyme A reductase inhibitor mevinolin (lovastatin) causes FRTL-5 thyroid cells to undergo significant morphological changes; these include a transition from a flat, polygonal to a round shape, the development of cytoplasmic arborizations, and the loss of contact between neighboring cells. Immunofluorescence studies of cytoskeletal structures show that, at early times after administering the drug, and before the round phenotype develops, stress fibers disassemble while the peripheral actin filaments, which are adjacent to the cytoplasmic face of the plasma membrane, appear largely unaffected. Subsequently, when this cortical actin network becomes fragmented, cells start to round up and become separated from neighbors. Microtubules become disconnected from the plasma membrane and retract toward the cell center, although they do not appear depolymerized; indeed, at this stage, cytoplasmic elongations contain mostly intact microtubules. After exposure to mevinolin FRTL-5 cells also lose vinculin-related substrate contacts. Treatment of cells with either cycloheximide or colchicine abolishes morphological changes induced by mevinolin, suggesting that ongoing protein synthesis and microtubule integrity are prerequisites for the drug to be effective. Both cytoskeletal and morphological perturbations can be reversed by mevalonate, but not by cholesterol or the non-sterol derivatives of mevalonate such as dolichol, ubiquinone, and isopentenyladenine, individually or in combination. It is suggested that mevalonate deficiency may impair formation of isoprenylated proteins important for cytoskeletal organization and stability.

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