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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Inhibitors of prenylation of Ras and other G-proteins and their application as therapeutics.

Anchoring of small G-proteins to cellular membranes via a covalently bound lipophylic prenyl group is essential for the functioning of these proteins. For example, the farnesylation of Ras by the action of the enzyme protein:farnesyl transferase (PFT) is pivotal for its signalling function in cell growth and differentiation. The development of inhibitors of PFT was triggered by the role of mutated Ras in certain types of cancer and by the observation that non-farnesylated Ras is inactive. Besides the screening of existing compounds for PFT inhibition, rational drug design has also led to new inhibitors. Our research is in the field of atherosclerosis and concerns the development of inhibitors of the growth of vascular smooth muscle cells. The latter process gives rise to reocclusion of the coronary artery (restenosis) after balloon angioplasty. We and others have developed several analogues of the two substrates of PFT, i.e. farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) and the so-called CAAX peptide consensus sequence, which were tested in vitro for the inhibition of PFT and of other enzymes involved in protein prenylation, such as protein:geranylgeranyl transferase-1 (PGGT-1). The FPP analogue TR006, a strong inhibitor of PFT (IC(50) of 67 nM), blocked the proliferation of cultured human smooth muscle cells and inhibited platelet-derived growth factor- and basic fibroblast growth factor-induced DNA synthesis. Similar but more highly charged compounds failed in this respect, probably because of an impaired uptake in the cells. Less charged derivatives were designed to circumvent this problem. The effect on the GF-induced activation of intermediates in signal transduction pathways was investigated in order to gain insight into the mechanism of action within the cells. TR006 decreased the bFGF activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 (ERK1), suggesting its involvement in inhibiting Ras activity. Although other analogues inhibited DNA synthesis, they affected neither ERK1 activation nor p38/stress-activated protein kinase 2 or Jun N-terminal kinase 1 activation. Since some of these compounds were also shown to be inhibitors of in vitro PGGT-1 activity, the geranylgeranylation of other G-proteins may be decreased by these compounds. Rho seems to be a good candidate as a target for inhibitors of PGGT-1. This uncertainty as to the mechanism of action within non-transformed as well as transformed cells applies to all prenylation inhibitors, but is not holding back their further development as drugs. Their current and possible future application as therapeutics in cancer, restenosis, angiogenesis, and osteoporosis is briefly discussed.[1]


  1. Inhibitors of prenylation of Ras and other G-proteins and their application as therapeutics. Cohen, L.H., Pieterman, E., van Leeuwen, R.E., Overhand, M., Burm, B.E., van der Marel, G.A., van Boom, J.H. Biochem. Pharmacol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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