Protein prenylation is a ubiquitous covalent post-translational modification found in all eukaryotic cells, comprising of attachment of either a farnesyl or a geranylgeranyl isoprenoid. It is essential for the proper cellular activity of numerous proteins, including Ras family GTPases and heterotrimeric G-proteins. Inhibition of prenylation has been extensively investigated to suppress the activity of oncogenic Ras proteins to achieve anti-tumor activity. Here, we review the biochemistry of the prenyltransferase enzymes and numerous isoprenoid analogs synthesized to investigate various aspects of prenylation and prenyltransferases. We also give an account of the current status of the prenyltransferase inhibitors as potential therapeutics against several diseases including cancers, progeria, aging, parasitic diseases and bacterial and viral infections. Finally, we discuss recent progress in utilizing protein prenylation for site-specific protein labeling for various biotechnology applications.
DNA-protein crosslinks (DPCs) are exceptionally bulky, structurally diverse DNA adducts formed in cells upon exposure to endogenous and exogenous bis-electrophiles, reactive oxygen species, and ionizing radiation. If not repaired, DPCs can induce toxicity and mutations. It has been proposed that the protein component of a DPC is proteolytically degraded, giving rise to smaller DNA-peptide conjugates, which can be subject to nucleotide excision repair and replication bypass. In the present study, polymerase bypass of model DNA-peptide conjugates structurally analogous to the lesions induced by reactive oxygen species and DNA methyltransferase inhibitors was examined. DNA oligomers containing site-specific DNA-peptide conjugates were generated by copper-catalyzed [3+2] Huisgen cycloaddition between an alkyne functionalized C5-thymidine in DNA and an azide-containing 10-mer peptide. The resulting DNA-peptide conjugates were subjected to steady-state kinetic experiments in the presence of recombinant human lesion bypass polymerases ? and ?, followed by PAGE-based assays to determine the catalytic efficiency and the misinsertion frequency opposite the lesion. We found that hPol ? and ? can incorporate A, G, C, or T opposite the C5-dT-conjugated DNA-peptide conjugates, while hPol ? preferentially inserts G opposite the lesion. Furthermore, HPLC-ESI--MS/MS sequencing of the extension products has revealed that postlesion synthesis was highly error prone, resulting in mutations opposite the adducted site or at the +1 position from the adduct and multiple deletions. Collectively, our results indicate that replication bypass of peptides conjugated to the C-5 position of thymine by human TLS polymerases leads to large numbers of base substitution and frameshift mutations.
Creating covalent protein conjugates is an active area of research due to the wide range of uses for protein conjugates spanning everything from biological studies to protein therapeutics. Protein Farnesyltransferase (PFTase) has been used for the creation of site-specific protein conjugates, and a number of PFTase substrates have been developed to facilitate that work. PFTase is an effective catalyst for protein modification because it transfers Farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) analogues to protein substrates on a cysteine four residues from the C-terminus. While much work has been done to synthesize various FPP analogues, there are few reports investigating how mutations in PFTase alter the kinetics with these unnatural analogues. Herein we examined how different mutations within the PFTase active site alter the kinetics of the PFTase reaction with a series of large FPP analogues. We found that mutating either a single tryptophan or tyrosine residue to alanine results in greatly improved catalytic parameters, particularly in kcat. Mutation of tryptophan 102? to alanine caused a 4-fold increase in kcat and a 10-fold decrease in KM for a benzaldehyde-containing FPP analogue resulting in an overall 40-fold increase in catalytic efficiency. Similarly, mutation of tyrosine 205? to alanine caused a 25-fold increase in kcat and a 10-fold decrease in KM for a coumarin-containing analogue leading to a 300-fold increase in catalytic efficiency. Smaller but significant changes in catalytic parameters were also obtained for cyclo-octene- and NBD-containing FPP analogues. The latter compound was used to create a fluorescently labeled form of Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor (CNTF), a protein of therapeutic importance. Additionally, computational modeling was performed to study how the large non-natural isoprenoid analogues can fit into the active sites enlarged via mutagenesis. Overall, these results demonstrate that PFTase can be improved via mutagenesis in ways that will be useful for protein engineering and the creation of site-specific protein conjugates.
DNA-protein cross-links (DPCs) are bulky, helix-distorting DNA lesions that form in the genome upon exposure to common antitumor drugs, environmental/occupational toxins, ionizing radiation, and endogenous free-radical-generating systems. As a result of their considerable size and their pronounced effects on DNA-protein interactions, DPCs can interfere with DNA replication, transcription, and repair, potentially leading to mutagenesis, genotoxicity, and cytotoxicity. However, the biological consequences of these ubiquitous lesions are not fully understood due to the difficulty of generating DNA substrates containing structurally defined, site-specific DPCs. In the present study, site-specific cross-links between the two biomolecules were generated by copper-catalyzed [3 + 2] Huisgen cycloaddition (click reaction) between an alkyne group from 5-(octa-1,7-diynyl)-uracil in DNA and an azide group within engineered proteins/polypeptides. The resulting DPC substrates were subjected to in vitro primer extension in the presence of human lesion bypass DNA polymerases ?, ?, ?, and ?. We found that DPC lesions to the green fluorescent protein and a 23-mer peptide completely blocked DNA replication, while the cross-link to a 10-mer peptide was bypassed. These results indicate that the polymerases cannot read through the larger DPC lesions and further suggest that proteolytic degradation may be required to remove the replication block imposed by bulky DPC adducts.
Protein farnesytransferase (PFTase) catalyzes the farnesylation of proteins with a carboxy-terminal tetrapeptide sequence denoted as a Ca1a2X box. To explore the specificity of this enzyme, an important therapeutic target, solid-phase peptide synthesis in concert with a peptide inversion strategy was used to prepare two libraries, each containing 380 peptides. The libraries were screened using an alkyne-containing isoprenoid analogue followed by click chemistry with biotin azide and subsequent visualization with streptavidin-AP. Screening of the CVa2X and CCa2X libraries with Rattus norvegicus PFTase revealed reaction by many known recognition sequences as well as numerous unknown ones. Some of the latter occur in the genomes of bacteria and viruses and may be important for pathogenesis, suggesting new targets for therapeutic intervention. Screening of the CVa2X library with alkyne-functionalized isoprenoid substrates showed that those prepared from C10 or C15 precursors gave similar results, whereas the analogue synthesized from a C5 unit gave a different pattern of reactivity. Lastly, the substrate specificities of PFTases from three organisms (R. norvegicus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Candida albicans) were compared using CVa2X libraries. R. norvegicus PFTase was found to share more peptide substrates with S. cerevisiae PFTase than with C. albicans PFTase. In general, this method is a highly efficient strategy for rapidly probing the specificity of this important enzyme.
Protein prenylation involves the addition of a farnesyl (C15) or geranylgeranyl (C20) isoprenoid moiety onto the C-terminus of approximately 2 % of all mammalian proteins. This hydrophobic modification serves to direct membrane association of the protein. Due to the finding that the oncogenic protein Ras is naturally prenylated, several researchers have developed inhibitors of the prenyltransferase enzymes as cancer therapeutics. Despite numerous studies on the enzymology of prenylation in vitro, many questions remain about the process of prenylation in living cells. Using a combination of flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, we have shown that synthetic fluorescently labeled prenylated peptides enter a variety of different cell types. Additionally, using capillary electrophoresis we have shown that these peptides can be detected in minute quantities from lysates of cells treated with these peptides. This method will allow for further study of the enzymology of protein prenylation in living cells.
Protein prenylation is a post-translational modification required for proper cellular localization and activity of many important eukaryotic proteins. Farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs) have been explored extensively for their antitumor activity. To assist in identifying potentially new and more useful markers for therapeutic applications, we developed a strategy that uses a combination of metabolic labeling and 2D DIGE (differential gel electrophoresis) to discover new prenylated proteins whose cellular levels are influenced by FTIs. In this approach, metabolic labeling of prenylated proteins was first carried out with an alkyne-modified isoprenoid analog, C15Alk, in the presence or absence of the FTI L-744,832. The resulting alkyne-tagged proteins were then labeled with Cy3-N3 and Cy5-N3 and subjected to 2D-DIGE. Multiple spots having altered levels of labeling in presence of the FTI were observed. Mass spectrometric analysis of some of the differentially labeled spots identified several known prenylated proteins, along with HisRS, PACN-3, GNAI-1 and GNAI-2, which are not known to be prenylated. In vitro farnesylation of a C-terminal peptide sequence derived from GNAI-1 and GNAI-2 produced a farnesylated product, suggesting GNAI-1 and GNAI-2 are potential novel farnesylated proteins. These results suggest that this new strategy could be useful for the identification of prenylated proteins whose level of post-translational modification has been modulated by the presence of an FTI. Additionally, this approach, which decreases sample complexity and thereby facilitates analysis, should be applicable to studies of other post-translational modifications as well.
Photoaffinity labeling is a useful technique employed to identify protein-ligand and protein-protein noncovalent interactions. Photolabeling experiments have been particularly informative for probing membrane-bound proteins where structural information is difficult to obtain. The most widely used classes of photoactive functionalities include aryl azides, diazocarbonyls, diazirines, and benzophenones. Diazirines are intrinsically smaller than benzophenones and generate carbenes upon photolysis that react with a broader range of amino acid side chains compared with the benzophenone-derived diradical; this makes diazirines potentially more general photoaffinity-labeling agents. In this article, we describe the development and application of a new isoprenoid analogue containing a diazirine moiety that was prepared in six steps and incorporated into an a-factor-derived peptide produced via solid-phase synthesis. In addition to the diazirine moiety, fluorescein and biotin groups were also incorporated into the peptide to aid in the detection and enrichment of photo-cross-linked products. This multifuctional diazirine-containing peptide was a substrate for Ste14p, the yeast homologue of the potential anticancer target Icmt, with K(m) (6.6 ?M) and V(max) (947 pmol min(-1) mg(-1)) values comparable or better than a-factor peptides functionalized with benzophenone-based isoprenoids. Photo-cross-linking experiments demonstrated that the diazirine probe photo-cross-linked to Ste14p with observably higher efficiency than benzophenone-containing a-factor peptides.
There is a growing library of functionalized non-natural substrates for the enzyme protein farnesyltransferase (PFTase). PFTase covalently attaches these functionalized non-natural substrates to proteins ending in the sequence CAAX, where C is a cysteine that becomes alkylated, A represents an aliphatic amino acid, and X is Ser, Met, Ala, or Gln. Reported substrates include a variety of functionalities that allow modified proteins to undergo subsequent bioconjugation reactions. To date the most common strategy used in this approach has been copper catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC). While being fast and bioorthogonal CuAAC has limited use in live cell experiments due to copper's toxicity.(1) Here, we report the synthesis of trans-cyclooctene geranyl diphosphate. This substrate can be synthesized from geraniol in six steps and be enzymatically transferred to peptides and proteins that end in a CAAX sequence. Proteins and peptides site-specially modified with trans-cyclooctene geranyl diphosphate were subsequently targeted for further modification via tetrazine ligation. As tetrazine ligation is bioorthogonal, fast, and is contingent on ring strain rather than the addition of a copper catalyst, this labeling strategy should prove useful for labeling proteins where the presence of copper may hinder solubility or biological reactivity.
Ras family small GTPases localize at the plasma membrane, where they can activate oncogenic signaling pathways. Understanding the mechanisms that promote membrane localization of GTPases will aid development of new therapies to inhibit oncogenic signaling. We previously reported that SmgGDS splice variants promote prenylation and trafficking of GTPases containing a C-terminal polybasic region and demonstrated that SmgGDS-607 interacts with nonprenylated GTPases, whereas SmgGDS-558 interacts with prenylated GTPases in cells. The mechanism that SmgGDS-607 and SmgGDS-558 use to differentiate between prenylated and nonprenylated GTPases has not been characterized. Here, we provide evidence that SmgGDS-607 associates with GTPases through recognition of the last amino acid in the CAAX motif. We show that SmgGDS-607 forms more stable complexes in cells with nonprenylated GTPases that will become geranylgeranylated than with nonprenylated GTPases that will become farnesylated. These binding relationships similarly occur with nonprenylated SAAX mutants. Intriguingly, farnesyltransferase inhibitors increase the binding of WT K-Ras to SmgGDS-607, indicating that the pharmacological shunting of K-Ras into the geranylgeranylation pathway promotes K-Ras association with SmgGDS-607. Using recombinant proteins and prenylated peptides corresponding to the C-terminal sequences of K-Ras and Rap1B, we found that both SmgGDS-607 and SmgGDS-558 directly bind the GTPase C-terminal region, but the specificity of the SmgGDS splice variants for prenylated versus nonprenylated GTPases is diminished in vitro. Finally, we present structural homology models and data from functional prediction software to define both similar and unique features of SmgGDS-607 when compared with SmgGDS-558.
Vaccination against the highly abused prescription opioid oxycodone has shown pre-clinical efficacy for blocking oxycodone effects. The current study further evaluated a candidate vaccine composed of oxycodone derivatized at the C6 position (6OXY) conjugated to the native keyhole limpet hemocyanin (nKLH) carrier protein. To provide an oxycodone vaccine formulation suitable for human studies, we studied the effect of alternative carriers and adjuvants on the generation of oxycodone-specific serum antibody and B cell responses, and the effect of immunization on oxycodone distribution and oxycodone-induced antinociception in mice and rats. 6OXY conjugated to tetanus toxoid (TT) or a GMP grade KLH dimer (dKLH) was as effective as 6OXY conjugated to the nKLH decamer in mice and rats, while the 6OXY hapten conjugated to a TT-derived peptide was not effective in preventing oxycodone-induced antinociception in mice. Immunization with 6OXY-TT s.c. absorbed on alum adjuvant provided similar protection to 6OXY-TT administered i.p. with Freund's adjuvant in rats. The toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) agonist monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA) adjuvant, alone or in combination with alum, offered no advantage over alum alone for generating oxycodone-specific serum antibodies or 6OXY-specific antibody secreting B cells in mice vaccinated with 6OXY-nKLH or 6OXY-TT. The immunogenicity of oxycodone vaccines may be modulated by TLR4 signaling since responses to 6OXY-nKLH in alum were decreased in TLR4-deficient mice. These data suggest that TT, nKLH and dKLH carriers provide consistent 6OXY conjugate vaccine immunogenicity across species, strains and via different routes of administration, while adjuvant formulations may need to be tailored to individual immunogens or patient populations.
Construction of heterofunctional proteins is a rapidly emerging area of biotherapeutics. Combining a protein with other moieties, such as a targeting element, a toxic protein or small molecule, and a fluorophore or polyethylene glycol (PEG) group, can improve the specificity, functionality, potency, and pharmacokinetic profile of a protein. Protein farnesyl transferase (PFTase) is able to site-specifically and quantitatively prenylate proteins containing a C-terminal CaaX-box amino acid sequence with various modified isoprenoids. Here, we describe the design, synthesis, and application of a triorthogonal reagent, 1, that can be used to site-specifically incorporate an alkyne and aldehyde group simultaneously into a protein. To illustrate the capabilities of this approach, a protein was enzymatically modified with compound 1 followed by oxime ligation and click reaction to simultaneously incorporate an azido-tetramethylrhodamine (TAMRA) fluorophore and an aminooxy-PEG moiety. This was performed with both a model protein [green fluorescent protein (GFP)] as well as a therapeutically useful protein [ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF)]. Next, a protein was enzymatically modified with compound 1 followed by coupling to an azido-bis-methotrexate dimerizer and aminooxy-TAMRA. Incubation of that construct with a dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR)-DHFR-anti-CD3 fusion protein resulted in the self-assembly of nanoring structures that were endocytosed into T-leukemia cells and visualized therein. These results highlight how complex multifunctional protein assemblies can be prepared using this facile triorthogonal approach.
Herein, a combination of microcontact printing of functionalized alkanethiols and site-specific modification of proteins is utilized to chemoselectively immobilize proteins onto gold surfaces, either by oxime- or copper-catalyzed alkyne-azide click chemistry. Two molecules capable of click reactions were synthesized, an aminooxy-functionalized alkanethiol and an azide-functionalized alkanethiol, and self-assembled monolayer (SAM) formation on gold was confirmed by IR spectroscopy. The alkanethiols were then individually patterned onto gold surfaces by microcontact printing. Site-specifically modified proteins-horse heart myoglobin (HHMb) containing an N-terminal ?-oxoamide and a red fluorescent protein (mCherry-CVIA) with a C-terminal alkyne-were immobilized by incubation onto respective stamped functionalized alkanethiol patterns. Pattern formation was confirmed by fluorescence microscopy.
In a facile and potentially general method for protein modification at the C-terminus, aldehyde-modified proteins, obtained from enzymatic protein prenylation, react rapidly with hydrazide and aminooxy surfaces and fluorophores at neutral pH and in micromolar concentration ranges of reagents. This strategy was used for fluorescent labeling of eGFP-CVIA, as a model protein, with aminooxy and hydrazide fluorophores or PEGs, and immobilization onto and subsequent release of the protein from hydrazide-functionalized agarose beads using hydrazone-oxime exchange. This method is described in detail here and provides site-specifically PEGylated or fluorescently labeled proteins starting from crude cellular extract in three steps: prenylation, capture, and release.
Site-specific modification of proteins is a major challenge in modern chemical biology due to the large number of reactive functional groups typically present in polypeptides. Because of its importance in biology and medicine, the development of methods for site-specific modification of proteins is an area of intense research. Selective protein modification procedures have been useful for oriented protein immobilization, for studies of naturally occurring post-translational modifications, for creating antibody-drug conjugates, for the introduction of fluorophores and other small molecules on to proteins, for examining protein structure, folding, dynamics, and protein-protein interactions, and for the preparation of protein-polymer conjugates. One of the most important approaches for protein labeling is to incorporate bioorthogonal functionalities into proteins at specific sites via enzymatic reactions. The incorporated tags then enable reactions that are chemoselective, whose functional groups not only are inert in biological media, but also do not occur natively in proteins or other macromolecules. This review article summarizes the enzymatic strategies, which enable site-specific functionalization of proteins with a variety of different functional groups. The enzymes covered in this review include formylglycine generating enzyme, sialyltransferases, phosphopantetheinyltransferases, O-GlcNAc post-translational modification, sortagging, transglutaminase, farnesyltransferase, biotin ligase, lipoic acid ligase, and N-myristoyltransferase.
Most human ?? T cells express V?2V?2 TCRs and play important roles in microbial and tumor immunity. V?2V?2 T cells are stimulated by self- and foreign prenyl pyrophosphate intermediates in isoprenoid synthesis. However, little is known about the molecular basis for this stimulation. We find that a mAb specific for butyrophilin 3 (BTN3)/CD277 Ig superfamily proteins mimics prenyl pyrophosphates. The 20.1 mAb stimulated V?2V?2 T cell clones regardless of their functional phenotype or developmental origin and selectively expanded blood V?2V?2 T cells. The ?? TCR mediates 20.1 mAb stimulation because IL-2 is released by ?(-) Jurkat cells transfected with V?2V?2 TCRs. 20.1 stimulation was not due to isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) accumulation because 20.1 treatment of APC did not increase IPP levels. In addition, stimulation was not inhibited by statin treatment, which blocks IPP production. Importantly, small interfering RNA knockdown of BTN3A1 abolished stimulation by IPP that could be restored by re-expression of BTN3A1 but not by BTN3A2 or BTN3A3. Rhesus monkey and baboon APC presented HMBPP and 20.1 to human V?2V?2 T cells despite amino acid differences in BTN3A1 that localize to its outer surface. This suggests that the conserved inner and/or top surfaces of BTN3A1 interact with its counterreceptor. Although no binding site exists on the BTN3A1 extracellular domains, a model of the intracellular B30.2 domain predicts a basic pocket on its binding surface. However, BTN3A1 did not preferentially bind a photoaffinity prenyl pyrophosphate. Thus, BTN3A1 is required for stimulation by prenyl pyrophosphates but does not bind the intermediates with high affinity.
Imine-based reactions are useful for a wide range of bioconjugation applications. Although aniline is known to catalyze the oxime ligation reaction under physiological conditions, it suffers from slow reaction kinetics, specifically when a ketone is being used or when hydrazone-oxime exchange is performed. Here, we report on the discovery of a new catalyst that is up to 15 times more efficient than aniline. That catalyst, m-phenylenediamine (mPDA), was initially used to analyze the kinetics of oxime ligation on aldehyde- and ketone-containing small molecules. While mPDA is only modestly more effective than aniline when used in equal concentrations (~2-fold), its much greater aqueous solubility relative to aniline allows it to be used at higher concentrations, resulting in significantly more efficient catalysis. In the context of protein labeling, it was first used to site-specifically label an aldehyde-functionalized protein through oxime ligation, and its kinetics were compared to reaction with aniline. Next, a protein was labeled with an aldehyde-containing substrate in crude cell lysate, captured with hydrazide-functionalized beads and then the kinetics of immobilized protein release via hydrazone-oxime exchange were analyzed. Our results show that mPDA can release and label 15 times more protein than aniline can in 3 h. Then, using the new catalyst, ciliary neurotrophic factor, a protein with therapeutic potential, was successfully labeled with a fluorophore in only 5 min. Finally, a protein containing the unnatural amino acid, p-acetyl phenylalanine, a ketone-containing residue, was prepared and PEGylated efficiently via oxime ligation using mPDA. This new catalyst should have a significant impact on the field of bioconjugation, where oxime ligation and hydrazone-oxime exchange are commonly employed.
Farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) is an important metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of a variety of molecules including sesquiterpenes and the side chains of a number of cofactors. FPP is also the source of isoprenoid side chains found attached to proteins. Enzymes that employ FPP as a substrate are of interest because they are involved in the semisynthesis of drugs as well as targets for drug design. Photoactive analogs of FPP have been useful for identifying enzymes that use this molecule as a substrate. A variety of photocrosslinking groups have been employed to prepare FPP analogs for use in such experiments including aryl azides, diazotrifluoropropionates and benzophenones. In this review, the design of these probes is described along with an examination of how they have been used in crosslinking experiments.
Rce1p catalyzes the proteolytic trimming of C-terminal tripeptides from isoprenylated proteins containing CAAX-box sequences. Because Rce1p processing is a necessary component in the Ras pathway of oncogenic signal transduction, Rce1p holds promise as a potential target for therapeutic intervention. However, its mechanism of proteolysis and active site have yet to be defined. Here, we describe synthetic peptide analogues that mimic the natural lipidated Rce1p substrate and incorporate photolabile groups for photoaffinity-labeling applications. These photoactive peptides are designed to crosslink to residues in or near the Rce1p active site. By incorporating the photoactive group via p-benzoyl-l-phenylalanine (Bpa) residues directly into the peptide substrate sequence, the labeling efficiency was substantially increased relative to a previously-synthesized compound. Incorporation of biotin on the N-terminus of the peptides permitted photolabeled Rce1p to be isolated via streptavidin affinity capture. Our findings further suggest that residues outside the CAAX-box sequence are in contact with Rce1p, which has implications for future inhibitor design.
Farnesyl diphosphate synthase (FDPS) catalyzes the conversion of isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate to farnesyl diphosphate, a crucial metabolic intermediate in the synthesis of cholesterol, ubiquinone, and prenylated proteins; consequently, much effort has gone into developing inhibitors that target FDPS. Currently most FDPS assays either use radiolabeled substrates and are discontinuous or monitor pyrophosphate release and not farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) creation. Here we report the development of a continuous coupled enzyme assay for FDPS activity that involves the subsequent incorporation of the FPP product of that reaction into a peptide via the action of protein farnesyltransferase (PFTase). By using a dansylated peptide whose fluorescence quantum yield increases upon farnesylation, the rate of FDPS-catalyzed FPP production can be measured. We show that this assay is more sensitive than existing coupled assays, that it can be used to conveniently monitor FDPS activity in a 96-well plate format, and that it can reproduce IC(50) values for several previously reported FDPS inhibitors. This new method offers a simple, safe, and continuous method to assay FDPS activity that should greatly facilitate the screening of inhibitors of this important target.
The cAMP-dependent protein kinase [protein kinase A (PKA)] mediates a myriad of cellular signaling events, and its activity is tightly regulated in both space and time. Among these regulatory mechanisms is N-myristoylation, whose biological role has been elusive. Using a combination of thermodynamics, kinetics, and spectroscopic methods, we analyzed the effects of N-myristoylation and phosphorylation at Ser10 on the interactions of PKA with model membranes. We found that, in the absence of lipids, the myristoyl group is tucked into the hydrophobic binding pocket of the enzyme (myr-in state). Upon association with lipid bilayers, the myristoyl group is extruded and inserts into the hydrocarbon region of the lipid bilayer (myr-out state). NMR data indicate that the enzyme undergoes conformational equilibrium between myr-in and myr-out states, which can be shifted byeither interaction with membranes and/or phosphorylation at Ser10. Our results provide evidence that the membrane binding motif of the myristoylated C-subunit of PKA (PKA-C) steers the enzyme toward lipids independent of its regulatory subunit or an A-kinase anchoring protein, providing an additional mechanism to localize the enzyme near membrane-bound substrates.
Protein prenylation involves the addition of either a farnesyl (C(15)) or geranylgeranyl (C(20)) isoprenoid moiety onto the C-terminus of many proteins. This natural modification serves to direct a protein to the plasma membrane of the cell. A recently discovered application of prenylated peptides is that they have inherent cell-penetrating ability, and are hence termed cell penetrating prenylated peptides. These peptides are able to efficiently cross the cell membrane in an ATP independent, non-endocytotic manner and it was found that the sequence of the peptide does not affect uptake, so long as the geranylgeranyl group is still present [Wollack, J. W.; Zeliadt, N. A.; Mullen, D. G.; Amundson, G.; Geier, S.; Falkum, S.; Wattenberg, E. V.; Barany, G.; Distefano, M. D. Multifunctional Prenylated Peptides for Live Cell Analysis. J. Am. Chem. Soc.2009, 131, 7293-7303]. The present study investigates the effect of removing the fluorophore from the peptides and investigating the uptake by confocal microscopy and flow cytometry. Our results show that the fluorophore is not necessary for uptake of these peptides. This information is significant because it indicates that the prenyl group is the major determinant in allowing these peptides to enter cells; the hydrophobic fluorophore has little effect. Moreover, these studies demonstrate the utility of the Cu-catalyzed click reaction for monitoring the entry of nonfluorescent peptides into cells.
An aldehyde-containing alternative substrate for protein farnesyltransferase was prepared and shown to be enzymatically incorporated into a peptide and a protein. The protein was subsequently immobilized onto aminooxy-functionalized agarose beads or labeled with a fluorophore. This method for protein modification provides an alternative to the commonly employed Cu(I)-catalyzed click reaction.
Protein prenyltransferases catalyze the attachment of C15 (farnesyl) and C20 (geranylgeranyl) groups to proteins at specific sequences localized at or near the C-termini of specific proteins. Determination of the specific protein prenyltransferase substrates affected by the inhibition of these enzymes is critical for enhancing knowledge of the mechanism of such potential drugs. Here, we investigate the utility of alkyne-containing isoprenoid analogs for chemical proteomics experiments by showing that these compounds readily penetrate mammalian cells in culture and become incorporated into proteins that are normally prenylated. Derivatization via Cu(I) catalyzed click reaction with a fluorescent azide reagent allows the proteins to be visualized and their relative levels to be analyzed. Simultaneous treatment of cells with these probes and inhibitors of prenylation reveals decreases in the levels of some but not all of the labeled proteins. Two-dimensional electrophoretic separation of these labeled proteins followed by mass spectrometric analysis allowed several labeled proteins to be unambiguously identified. Docking experiments and density functional theory calculations suggest that the substrate specificity of protein farnesyl transferase may vary depending on whether azide- or alkyne-based isoprenoid analogs is employed. These results demonstrate the utility of alkyne-containing analogs for chemical proteomic applications.
a-Factor from Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a farnesylated dodecapeptide involved in mating. The molecule binds to a G-protein coupled receptor and hence serves as a simple system for studying the interactions between prenylated molecules and their cognate receptors. Here, we describe the preparation of a-factor and two photoactive analogues via Fmoc solid-phase peptide synthesis using hydrazinobenzoyl AM NovaGel™ resin; the structure of the synthetic a-factor was confirmed by MS-MS analysis and NMR; the structures of the analogues were confirmed by MS-MS analysis. Using a yeast growth arrest assay, the analogues were found to have activity comparable to a-factor itself.
Phosphorylated compounds are ubiquitous in life. Given their central role, many such substrates and analogs have been prepared for subsequent evaluation. Prior to biological experiments, it is typically necessary to determine the concentration of the target molecule in solution. Here we describe a method where concentrations of stock solutions of organic diphosphates and bisphosphonates are quantified using (31)P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy with standard instrumentation using a capillary tube with a secondary standard. The method is specific and is applicable down to a concentration of 200 ?M. The capillary tube provides the reference peak for quantification and deuterated solvent for locking.
Protein prenylation is a posttranslational modification that is present in a large number of proteins; it has been proposed to be responsible for membrane association and protein-protein interactions, which contribute to its role in signal transduction pathways. Research has been aimed at inhibiting prenylation with farnesyltransferase inhibitors based on the finding that the farnesylated protein Ras is implicated in 30% of human cancers. Despite numerous studies on the enzymology of prenylation in vitro, many questions remain about the process of prenylation as it occurs in living cells. Here we describe the preparation of a series of farnesylated peptides that contain sequences recognized by protein farnesyltransferase. Using a combination of flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, we show that these peptides enter a variety of different cell types. A related peptide where the farnesyl group has been replaced by a disulfide-linked decyl group is also shown to be able to efficiently enter cells. These results highlight the applicability of these peptides as a platform for further study of protein prenylation and subsequent processing in live cells.
Sesquiterpene synthases catalyze with different catalytic fidelity the cyclization of farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) into hundreds of known compounds with diverse structures and stereochemistries. Two sesquiterpene synthases, Cop4 and Cop6, were previously isolated from Coprinus cinereus as part of a fungal genome survey. This study investigates the reaction mechanism and catalytic fidelity of the two enzymes. Cyclization of all-trans-FPP ((E,E)-FPP) was compared to the cyclization of the cis-trans isomer of FPP ((Z,E)-FPP) as a surrogate for the secondary cisoid neryl cation intermediate generated by sesquiterpene synthases, which are capable of isomerizing the C2--C3 pi bond of all-trans-FPP. Cop6 is a "high-fidelity" alpha-cuprenene synthase that retains its fidelity under various conditions tested. Cop4 is a catalytically promiscuous enzyme that cyclizes (E,E)-FPP into multiple products, including (-)-germacrene D and cubebol. Changing the pH of the reaction drastically alters the fidelity of Cop4 and makes it a highly selective enzyme. Cyclization of (Z,E)-FPP by Cop4 and Cop6 yields products that are very different from those obtained with (E,E)-FPP. Conversion of (E,E)-FPP proceeds via a (6R)-beta-bisabolyl carbocation in the case of Cop6 and an (E,E)-germacradienyl carbocation in the case of Cop4. However, (Z,E)-FPP is cyclized via a (6S)-beta-bisabolene carbocation by both enzymes. Structural modeling suggests that differences in the active site and the loop that covers the active site of the two enzymes might explain their different catalytic fidelities.
The Acm protecting group for the thiol functionality of cysteine is removed under conditions (Hg(2+)) that are orthogonal to the acidic milieu used for global deprotection in Fmoc-based solid-phase peptide synthesis. This use of a toxic heavy metal for deprotection has limited the usefulness of Acm in peptide synthesis. The Acm group may be converted to the Scm derivative that can then be used as a reactive intermediate for unsymmetrical disulfide formation. It may also be removed by mild reductive conditions to generate unprotected cysteine. Conversion of Cys(Acm)-containing peptides to their corresponding Cys(Scm) derivatives in solution is often problematic because the sulfenyl chloride reagent used for this conversion may react with the sensitive amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan. In this protocol, we report a method for on-resin Acm to Scm conversion that allows the preparation of Cys(Scm)-containing peptides under conditions that do not modify other amino acids.
The similarity ensemble approach (SEA) relates proteins based on the set-wise chemical similarity among their ligands. It can be used to rapidly search large compound databases and to build cross-target similarity maps. The emerging maps relate targets in ways that reveal relationships one might not recognize based on sequence or structural similarities alone. SEA has previously revealed cross talk between drugs acting primarily on G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Here we used SEA to look for potential off-target inhibition of the enzyme protein farnesyltransferase (PFTase) by commercially available drugs. The inhibition of PFTase has profound consequences for oncogenesis, as well as a number of other diseases. In the present study, two commercial drugs, Loratadine and Miconazole, were identified as potential ligands for PFTase and subsequently confirmed as such experimentally. These results point toward the applicability of SEA for the prediction of not only GPCR-GPCR drug cross talk but also GPCR-enzyme and enzyme-enzyme drug cross talk.
Isoprenylation is a post-translational modification that increases protein hydrophobicity and helps target certain proteins to membranes. Ras converting enzyme 1 (Rce1p) is an endoprotease that catalyzes the removal of a three residue fragment from the C-terminus of isoprenylated proteins. To obtain structural information about this membrane protein, photoaffinity labeling agents are being prepared and employed. Here, we describe the synthesis of a benzophenone-containing peptide substrate analogue for Rce1p. Using a continuous spectrofluorometric assay, this peptide was shown to be a substrate for Rce1p. Mass spectrometry was performed to confirm the site of cleavage and structure of the processed probe. Photolysis of the biotinylated compound in the presence of membranes containing Rce1p followed by streptavidin pull-down and Western blot analysis indicated that Rce1p had been labeled by the probe. Photolysis in the presence of both the biotinylated, benzophenone-containing probe and a farnesylated peptide competitor reduced the extent of labeling, suggesting that labeling is occurring in the active site.
Recently a number of nonnatural prenyl groups containing alkynes and azides have been developed as handles to perform click chemistry on proteins and peptides ending in the sequence "CAAX", where C is a cysteine that becomes alkylated, A is an aliphatic amino acid and X is any amino acid. When such molecules are modified, a tag containing a prenyl analogue and the "CAAX box" sequence remains. Here we report the synthesis of an alkyne-containing substrate comprised of only nine nonhydrogen atoms. This substrate was synthesized in six steps from 3-methylbut-2-en-1-ol and has been enzymatically incorporated into both proteins and peptides by using protein farnesyltransferase. After prenylation the final three amino acids required for enzymatic recognition can be removed by using carboxypeptidase Y, leaving a single residue (the cysteine from the "CAAX box") and the prenyl analogue as the only modifications. We also demonstrate that this small tag minimizes the impact of the modification on the solubility of the targeted protein. Hence, this new approach should be useful for applications in which the presence of a large tag hinders the modified proteins solubility, reactivity, or utility.
Cell penetrating peptides are useful delivery tools for introducing molecules of interest into cells. A new class of cell penetrating molecules has been recently reported-cell penetrating, prenylated peptides. In this study a series of such peptides was synthesized to examine the relationship between peptide sequence and level of peptide internalization and to probe their mechanism of internalization. This study revealed that prenylated peptides internalize via a non-endocytotic pathway regardless of sequence. Sequence length and identity was found to play a role in peptide uptake but prenylated sequences as short as two amino acids were found to exhibit significant cell penetrating properties.
Protein prenylation is a common post-translational modification present in eukaryotic cells. Many key proteins involved in signal transduction pathways are prenylated, and inhibition of prenylation can be useful as a therapeutic intervention. While significant progress has been made in understanding protein prenylation in vitro, we have been interested in studying this process in living cells, including the question of where prenylated molecules localize. Here, we describe the synthesis and live cell analysis of a series of fluorescently labeled multifunctional peptides, based on the C-terminus of the naturally prenylated protein CDC42. A synthetic route was developed that features a key Acm to Scm protecting group conversion. This strategy was compatible with acid-sensitive isoprenoid moieties and allowed incorporation of an appropriate fluorophore as well as a cell-penetrating sequence (penetratin). These peptides are able to enter cells through different mechanisms, depending on the presence or absence of the penetratin vehicle and the nature of the prenyl group attached. Interestingly, prenylated peptides lacking penetratin are able to enter cells freely through an energy-independent process and localize in a perinuclear fashion. This effect extends to a prenylated peptide that includes a full "CAAX box" sequence (specifically, CVLL). Hence, these peptides open the door for studies of protein prenylation in living cells, including enzymatic processing and intracellular peptide trafficking. Moreover, the synthetic strategy developed here should be useful for the assembly of other types of peptides that contain acid-sensitive functionalities.
Although protein prenylation is widely studied, there are few good methods for isolating prenylated proteins from their nonprenylated relatives. We report that crosslinked agarose (e.g., Sepharose) chromatography medium that has been chemically functionalized with beta-cyclodextrin (beta-CD) is extremely effective in affinity chromatography of prenylated proteins. In this study, a variety of proteins with C-terminal prenylation target ("CAAX box") sequences were enzymatically prenylated in vitro with natural and nonnatural prenyl diphosphate substrates. The prenylated protein products could then be isolated from starting materials by gravity chromatography or fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC) on a beta-CD-Sepharose column. One particular prenylation reaction, farnesylation of an mCherry-CAAX fusion construct, was studied in detail. In this case, purified farnesylated product was unambiguously identified by electrospray mass spectrometry. In addition, when mCherry-CAAX was prenylated with a nonnatural, functional isoprenoid substrate, the functional group was maintained by chromatography on beta-CD-Sepharose, such that the resulting protein could be selectively bound at its C terminus to complementary functionality on a solid substrate. Finally, beta-CD-Sepharose FPLC was used to isolate prenylated mCherry-CAAX from crude HeLa cell lysate as a model for purifying prenylated proteins from cell extracts. We propose that this method could be generally useful to the community of researchers studying protein prenylation.
Farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) is a substrate for a diverse number of enzymes found in nature. Photoactive analogues of isoprenoid diphosphates containing either benzophenone, diazotrifluoropropionate or azide groups have been useful for studying both the enzymes that synthesize FPP as well as those that employ FPP as a substrate. Here we describe the synthesis and properties of a new class of FPP analogues that links an unmodified farnesyl group to a diphosphate mimic containing a photoactive benzophenone moiety; thus, importantly, these compounds are photoactive FPP analogues that contain no modifications of the isoprenoid portion of the molecule that may interfere with substrate binding in the active site of an FPP utilizing enzyme. Two isomeric compounds containing meta- and para-substituted benzophenones were prepared. These two analogues inhibit Saccharomyces cerevisiae protein farnesyltransferase (ScPFTase) with IC(50) values of 5.8 (meta isomer) and 3.0 microM (para isomer); the more potent analogue, the para isomer, was shown to be a competitive inhibitor of ScPFTase with respect to FPP with a K(I) of 0.46 microM. Radiolabeled forms of both analogues selectively labeled the beta-subunit of ScPFTase. The para isomer was also shown to label Escherichia coli farnesyl diphosphate synthase and Drosophila melanogaster farnesyl diphosphate synthase. Finally, the para isomer was shown to be an alternative substrate for a sesquiterpene synthase from Nostoc sp. strain PCC7120, a cyanobacterial source; the compound also labeled the purified enzyme upon photolysis. Taken together, these results using a number of enzymes demonstrate that this new class of probes should be useful for a plethora of studies of FPP-utilizing enzymes.
A new cysteine anchoring method was developed for the synthesis of peptides containing C-terminal cysteine methyl esters. This method consists of attachment of Fmoc-Cys-OCH(3) to either 2-ClTrt-Cl or Trt-Cl resins (via the side-chain thiol) followed by preparation of the desired peptide using Fmoc-based SPPS. We applied this method to the synthesis of the mating pheromone a-factor and a 5-FAM labeled a-factor analog. The peptides were obtained with high yield and purity and were shown to be bioactive in a growth arrest assay.
Prenylation is an essential post-translational modification in all eukaryotes. Here we describe the synthesis of a 340-member library of peptides containing free C-termini on cellulose membranes. The resulting library was then used to probe the specificity of protein farnesyltransferase from S. cerevisiae.
Covalent protein-oligodeoxynucleotide (protein-ODN) conjugates are useful in a number of biological applications, but synthesizing discrete conjugates-where the connection between the two components is at a defined location in both the protein and the ODN-under mild conditions with significant yield can be a challenge. In this article, we demonstrate a strategy for synthesizing discrete protein-ODN conjugates using strain-promoted azide-alkyne [3+2] cycloaddition (SPAAC, a copper-free click reaction). Azide-functionalized proteins, prepared by enzymatic prenylation of C-terminal CVIA tags with synthetic azidoprenyl diphosphates, were clicked to ODNs that had been modified with a strained dibenzocyclooctyne (DIBO-ODN). The resulting protein-ODN conjugates were purified and characterized by size-exclusion chromatography and gel electrophoresis. We find that the yields and reaction times of the SPAAC bioconjugation reactions are comparable to those previously reported for copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne [3+2] cycloaddition (CuAAC) bioconjugation, but require no catalyst. The same SPAAC chemistry was used to immobilize azide-modified proteins onto surfaces, using surface-bound DIBO-ODN as a heterobifunctional linker. Cu-free click bioconjugation of proteins to ODNs is a simple and versatile alternative to Cu-catalyzed click methods.
Isoprenylcysteine carboxyl methyltransferases (Icmts) are a class of integral membrane protein methyltransferases localized to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane in eukaryotes. The Icmts from human (hIcmt) and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Ste14p) catalyze the ?-carboxyl methyl esterification step in the post-translational processing of CaaX proteins, including the yeast a-factor mating pheromones and both human and yeast Ras proteins. Herein, we evaluated synthetic analogs of two well-characterized Icmt substrates, N-acetyl-S-farnesyl-L-cysteine (AFC) and the yeast a-factor peptide mating pheromone, that contain photoactive benzophenone moieties in either the lipid or peptide portion of the molecule. The AFC based-compounds were substrates for both hIcmt and Ste14p, whereas the a-factor analogs were only substrates for Ste14p. However, the a-factor analogs were found to be micromolar inhibitors of hIcmt. Together, these data suggest that the Icmt substrate binding site is dependent upon features in both the isoprenyl moiety and upstream amino acid composition. Furthermore, these data suggest that hIcmt and Ste14p have overlapping, yet distinct, substrate specificities. Photocrosslinking and neutravidin-agarose capture experiments with these analogs revealed that both hIcmt and Ste14p were specifically photolabeled to varying degrees with all of the compounds tested. Our data suggest that these analogs will be useful for the future identification of the Icmt substrate binding sites.
The creation of caged molecules involves the attachment of protecting groups to biologically active compounds such as ligands, substrates and drugs that can be removed under specific conditions. Photoremovable caging groups are the most common due to their ability to be removed with high spatial and temporal resolution. Here, the synthesis and photochemistry of a caged inhibitor of protein farnesyltransferase is described. The inhibitor, FTI, was caged by alkylation of a critical thiol group with a bromohydroxycoumarin (Bhc) moiety. While Bhc is well established as a protecting group for carboxylates and phosphates, it has not been extensively used to cage sulfhydryl groups. The resulting caged molecule, Bhc-FTI, can be photolyzed with UV light to release the inhibitor that prevents Ras farnesylation, Ras membrane localization and downstream signaling. Finally, it is shown that Bhc-FTI can be uncaged by two-photon excitation to produce FTI at levels sufficient to inhibit Ras localization and alter cell morphology. Given the widespread involvement of Ras proteins in signal transduction pathways, this caged inhibitor should be useful in a plethora of studies.
Site-specific chemical modification of proteins is important for many applications in biology and biotechnology. Recently, our laboratory and others have exploited the high specificity of the enzyme protein farnesyltransferase (PFTase) to site-specifically modify proteins through the use of alternative substrates that incorporate bioorthogonal functionality including azides and alkynes. In this study, we evaluate two aldehyde-containing molecules as substrates for PFTase and as reactants in both oxime and hydrazone formation. Using green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a model system, we demonstrate that the purified protein can be enzymatically modified with either analogue to yield aldehyde-functionalized proteins. Oxime or hydrazone formation was then employed to immobilize, fluorescently label, or PEGylate the resulting aldehyde-containing proteins. Immobilization via hydrazone formation was also shown to be reversible via transoximization with a fluorescent alkoxyamine. After characterizing this labeling strategy using pure protein, the specificity of the enzymatic process was used to selectively label GFP present in crude E. coli extract followed by capture of the aldehyde-modified protein using hydrazide-agarose. Subsequent incubation of the immobilized protein using a fluorescently labeled or PEGylated alkoxyamine resulted in the release of pure GFP containing the desired site-specific covalent modifications. This procedure was also employed to produce PEGylated glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), a protein with potential therapeutic activity for diabetes. Given the specificity of the PFTase-catalyzed reaction coupled with the ability to introduce a CAAX-box recognition sequence onto almost any protein, this method shows great potential as a general approach for selective immobilization and labeling of recombinant proteins present in crude cellular extract without prior purification. Beyond generating site-specifically modified proteins, this approach for polypeptide modification could be particularly useful for large-scale production of protein conjugates for therapeutic or industrial applications.
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