Incomplete processing of mutant lamin A in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria leads to nuclear abnormalities, which are reversed by farnesyltransferase inhibition

Hum Mol Genet. 2005 Oct 15;14(20):2959-69. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddi326. Epub 2005 Aug 26.


Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is typically caused by mutations in codon 608 (G608G) of the LMNA gene, which activates a cryptic splice site resulting in the in-frame loss of 150 nucleotides from the lamin A message. The deleted region includes a protein cleavage site that normally removes 15 amino acids, including a CAAX box farnesylation site, from the lamin A protein. We investigated the processing of the C-terminus of the mutant protein, 'progerin', and found that it does not undergo cleavage and, indeed, remains farnesylated. The retention of the farnesyl group may have numerous consequences, as farnesyl groups increase lipophilicity and are involved in membrane association and in protein interactions, and is likely to be an important factor in the HGPS phenotype. To further investigate this, we studied the effects of farnesylation inhibition on nuclear phenotypes in cells expressing normal and mutant lamin A. Expression of a GFP-progerin fusion protein in normal fibroblasts caused a high incidence of nuclear abnormalities, as was also seen in HGPS fibroblasts, and resulted in abnormal nuclear localization of GFP-progerin in comparison with the localization pattern of GFP-lamin A. Expression of a GFP-lamin A fusion containing a mutation preventing the final cleavage step, causing the protein to remain farnesylated, displayed identical localization patterns and nuclear abnormalities as in HGPS cells and in cells expressing GFP-progerin. Exposure to a farnesyltransferase inhibitor (FTI), PD169541, caused a significant improvement in the nuclear morphology of cells expressing GFP-progerin and in HGPS cells. These results implicate the abnormal farnesylation of progerin in the cellular phenotype in HGPS cells and suggest that FTIs may represent a therapeutic option for patients with HGPS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Farnesyltranstransferase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Farnesyltranstransferase / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Gene Expression
  • Lamin Type A / genetics
  • Lamin Type A / metabolism*
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Progeria / genetics
  • Progeria / metabolism*
  • Progeria / pathology*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / drug effects
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transfection


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Lamin Type A
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Farnesyltranstransferase