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Biochemistry. 1997 Oct 7;36(40):12036-44.

Novel modifications to the farnesyl moiety of the a-factor lipopeptide pheromone from Saccharomyces cerevisiae: a role for isoprene modifications in ligand presentation.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37996, USA.


The a-factor of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a dodecapeptide pheromone [YIIKGVFWDPAC(farnesyl)-OCH3] in which posttranslational modification with a farnesyl isoprenoid and carboxymethyl group is required for full biological activity. Utilizing novel synthetic techniques and a well-characterized array of biological assays, we prepared original modifications to the farnesyl moiety of the pheromone in order to assess the importance of this part of the lipopeptide for biological activity. Specifically, the 3-methyl group was replaced to create analogs containing the ethyl, vinyl, tert-butyl, and phenyl moieties at the 3-position of the farnesyl chain. Subsequent biological analyses demonstrated that all of these modifications render an active pheromone, with the vinyl and ethyl analogs exhibiting higher activity than the native a-factor. However, the level of activity varied with the modification; the bulkier and more hydrophobic groups (tert-butyl and phenyl) exhibited lower biological activity than the smaller moieties (ethyl and vinyl). Furthermore, two analogs with phenyl substitutions that differ only in the presumed isomerization of the allylic double bond show up to an 8-fold difference in bioactivity. It has previously been surmised that the role of isoprenoid additions is solely to target the attached polypeptides to membranes by increasing their hydrophobicity. However, these studies demonstrate that even modest structural changes to the isoprenoid can significantly affect biological activity. These results are clearly inconsistent with a simple hydrophobic role for the isoprenoid and instead illustrate that it plays an active role in mediating optimal a-factor/receptor interaction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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