Targeting of K-Ras 4B by S-trans,trans-farnesyl thiosalicylic acid

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Dec 9;1452(3):228-42. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4889(99)00144-5.


Ras proteins regulate cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis. Their activities depend on their anchorage to the inner surface of the plasma membrane, which is promoted by their common carboxy-terminal S-farnesylcysteine and either a stretch of lysine residues (K-Ras 4B) or S-palmitoyl moieties (H-Ras, N-Ras and K-Ras 4A). We previously demonstrated dislodgment of H-Ras from EJ cell membranes by S-trans,trans-farnesylthiosalicylic acid (FTS), and proposed that FTS disrupts the interactions between the S-prenyl moiety of Ras and the membrane anchorage domains. In support of this hypothesis, we now show that FTS, which is not a farnesyltransferase inhibitor, inhibits growth of NIH3T3 cells transformed by the non-palmitoylated K-Ras 4B(12V) or by its farnesylated, but unmethylated, K-Ras 4B(12) CVYM mutant. The growth-inhibitory effects of FTS followed the dislodgment and accelerated degradation of K-Ras 4B(12V), leading in turn to a decrease in its amount in the cells and inhibition of MAPK activity. FTS did not affect the rate of degradation of the K-Ras 4B, SVIM mutant which is not modified post-translationally, suggesting that only farnesylated Ras isoforms are substrates for facilitated degradation. The putative Ras-recognition sites (within domains in the cell membrane) appear to tolerate both C(15) and C(20) S-prenyl moeities, since geranylgeranyl thiosalicylic acid mimicked the growth-inhibitory effects of FTS in K-Ras 4B(12V)-transformed cells and FTS inhibited the growth of cells transformed by the geranylgeranylated K-Ras 4B(12V) CVIL isoform. The results suggest that FTS acts as a domain-targeted compound that disrupts Ras-membrane interactions. The fact that FTS can target K-Ras 4B(12V), which is insensitive to inhibition by farnesyltransfarase inhibitors, suggests that FTS may target Ras (and other prenylated proteins important for transformed cell growth) in an efficient manner that speaks well for its potential as an anticancer therapeutic agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Farnesol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Farnesol / pharmacology
  • Gene Targeting
  • Genes, ras / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mutation
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics*
  • Salicylates / pharmacology*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Salicylates
  • farnesylthiosalicylic acid
  • Farnesol
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)