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1.  A novel statin-mediated “prenylation block-and-release” assay provides insight into the membrane targeting mechanisms of small GTPases 
Ras super-family small GTPases regulate diverse cellular processes such as vesicular transport and signal transduction. Critical to these activities is the ability of these proteins to target to specific intracellular membranes. To allow association with membranes Ras-related GTPases are post-translationally modified by covalent attachment of prenyl groups to conserved cysteine residues at or near their C-terminus. Here we used the HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A) reductase (HMGCR) inhibitor mevastatin to develop a ‘prenylation block-and-release’ assay that allows membrane targeting of prenylated proteins to be visualized in living cells. Using this assay we investigated the cytosol to membrane targeting of several small GTPases to compartments of the secretory and endocytic pathways. We found that all Rabs tested were targeted directly to the membrane on which they reside at steady-state and not via an intermediate location as reported for Ras and Rho proteins. However, we observed that the kinetics of cytosol to membrane targeting differed for each Rab tested. Comparison of the mevastatin sensitivity and kinetics of membrane targeting of Rab23, Rab23 prenylation motif mutants and H-Ras revealed that these parameters are strongly dependent upon the prenyl transferase with Rab geranylgeranyl transferase substrates exhibiting higher sensitivity and requiring greater time to recover from mevastatin inhibition than farnesyl transferase substrates. We propose that this assay is a useful tool to investigate the kinetics, biological functions and the mechanisms of membrane targeting of prenylated proteins.
doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2010.05.045
PMCID: PMC2908739  PMID: 20471365
GTPases; Prenylation; Statin; Trafficking; Rab proteins
2.  Defective cellular trafficking of missense NPR-B mutants is the major mechanism underlying acromesomelic dysplasia-type Maroteaux 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;18(2):267-277.
Natriuretic peptides (NPs) comprise a family of structurally related but genetically distinct hormones that regulate a variety of physiological processes such as cardiac growth, blood pressure, axonal pathfinding and endochondral ossification leading to the formation of vertebrae and long bones. The biological actions of NPs are mediated by natriuretic peptide receptors (NPRs) A, B and C that are located on the cell surface. Mutations in NPR-B have been shown to cause acromesomelic dysplasia-type Maroteaux (AMDM), a growth disorder in humans and severe dwarfism in mice. We hypothesized that missense mutations of NPR-B associated with AMDM primarily affect NPR-B function by the arrest of receptor trafficking at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), due to conformational change, rather than an impairment of ligand binding, transmission of signal through the membrane or catalytic activity. Twelve missense mutations found in AMDM patients and cn/cn mice were generated by site-directed mutagenesis and transiently overexpressed in HeLa cells. Confocal microscopy revealed that 11 out of 12 mutants were retained in the ER. Determination of the ligand-dependent cGMP response confirmed that ER-retained NPR-B mutants are non-functional. Meanwhile, the only cell surface-targeted NPR-B missense mutant (D176E) displayed greatly reduced enzymatic activity due to impaired ligand binding. Thus, in the majority of cases of AMDM associated with missense NPR-B mutation, disease appears to result from defects in the targeting of the ER receptor to the plasma membrane.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn354
PMCID: PMC2638773  PMID: 18945719
3.  Membrane Targeting of Rab GTPases Is Influenced by the Prenylation MotifD⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(5):1882-1899.
Rab GTPases are regulators of membrane traffic. Rabs specifically associate with target membranes via the attachment of (usually) two geranylgeranyl groups in a reaction involving Rab escort protein and Rab geranylgeranyl transferase. In contrast, related GTPases are singly prenylated by CAAX prenyl transferases. We report that di-geranylgeranyl modification is important for targeting of Rab5a and Rab27a to endosomes and melanosomes, respectively. Transient expression of EGFP-Rab5 mutants containing two prenylatable cysteines (CGC, CC, CCQNI, and CCA) in HeLa cells did not affect endosomal targeting or function, whereas mono-cysteine mutants (CSLG, CVLL, or CVIM) were mistargeted to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and were nonfunctional. Similarly, Rab27aCVLL mutant is also mistargeted to the ER and transgenic expression on a Rab27a null background (Rab27aash) did not rescue the coat color phenotype, suggesting that Rab27aCVLL is not functional in vivo. CAAX prenyl transferase inhibition and temperature-shift experiments further suggest that Rabs, singly or doubly modified are recruited to membranes via a Rab escort protein/Rab geranylgeranyl transferase-dependent mechanism that is distinct from the insertion of CAAX-containing GTPases. Finally, we show that both singly and doubly modified Rabs are extracted from membranes by RabGDIα and propose that the mistargeting of Rabs to the ER results from loss of targeting information.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E02-10-0639
PMCID: PMC165084  PMID: 12802062

Results 1-3 (3)