Protein prenylation is a post-translational modification that has been most commonly associated with enabling protein trafficking to and interaction with cellular membranes. In this process, an isoprenoid group is attached to a cysteine near the C terminus of a substrate protein by protein farnesyltransferase (FTase) or protein geranylgeranyltransferase type I or II (GGTase-I and GGTase-II). FTase and GGTase-I have long been proposed to specifically recognize a four-amino acid CAAX C-terminal sequence within their substrates. Surprisingly, genetic screening reveals that yeast FTase can modify sequences longer than the canonical CAAX sequence, specifically C(x)3X sequences with four amino acids downstream of the cysteine. Biochemical and cell-based studies using both peptide and protein substrates reveal that mammalian FTase orthologs can also prenylate C(x)3X sequences. As the search to identify physiologically relevant C(x)3X proteins begins, this new prenylation motif nearly doubles the number of proteins within the yeast and human proteomes that can be explored as potential FTase substrates. This work expands our understanding of prenylation's impact within the proteome, establishes the biologically relevant reactivity possible with this new motif, and opens new frontiers in determining the impact of non-canonically prenylated proteins on cell function.
Keywords: Ras protein; enzyme; mass spectrometry (MS); post-translational modification; protein farnesylation; protein isoprenylation; yeast genetics.
© 2018 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.