Dysregulation of Ras and Rho family small GTPases drives the invasion and metastasis of multiple cancers. For their biological functions, these GTPases require proper subcellular localization to cellular membranes, which is regulated by a series of post-translational modifications that result in either farnesylation or geranylgeranylation of the C-terminal CAAX motif. This concept provided the rationale for targeting farnesyltransferase (FTase) and geranylgeranyltransferases (GGTase) for cancer treatment. However, the resulting prenyl transferase inhibitors have not performed well in the clinic due to issues with alternative prenylation and toxicity. As an alternative, we have developed a unique class of potential anti-cancer therapeutics called Prenyl Function Inhibitors (PFIs), which are farnesol or geranyl-geraniol analogs that act as alternate substrates for FTase or GGTase. Here, we test the ability of our lead PFIs, anilinogeraniol (AGOH) and anilinofarnesol (AFOH), to block the invasion of breast cancer cells. We found that AGOH treatment effectively decreased invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells in a two-dimensional (2D) invasion assay at 100 µM while it blocked invasive growth in three-dimensional (3D) culture model at as little as 20 µM. Notably, the effect of AGOH on 3D invasive growth was phenocopied by electroporation of cells with C3 exotransferase. To determine if RhoA and RhoC were direct targets of AGOH, we performed Rho activity assays in MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468 cells and found that AGOH blocked RhoA and RhoC activation in response to LPA and EGF stimulation. Notably, the geranylgeraniol analog AFOH was more potent than AGOH in inhibiting RhoA and RhoC activation and invasive growth. Interestingly, neither AGOH nor AFOH impacted 3D growth of MCF10A cells. Collectively, this study demonstrates that AGOH and AFOH dramatically inhibit breast cancer invasion, at least in part by blocking Rho function, thus, suggesting that targeting prenylation by using PFIs may offer a promising mechanism for treatment of invasive breast cancer.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Chen, Min; Knifley, Teresa; Subramanian, Thangaiah; Spielmann, H. Peter; and O'Connor, Kathleen L., "Use of Synthetic Isoprenoids to Target Protein Prenylation and Rho GTPases in Breast Cancer Invasion" (2014). Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry Faculty Publication. 38.