Inhibition of lymphocyte activation and function by the prenylation inhibitor L-778,123
Protein prenylation, the post-translational attachment of isoprenoids to certain cellular proteins, increases protein hydrophobicity and promotes protein-membrane interactions. Of the many cellular proteins that undergo protein prenylation, particular attention has been paid to the protooncogene product Ras. Prenylated Ras protein localizes to the inner cell membrane and appears to function as a "molecular switch" through which peptide growth factors such as PDGF, IGF-1, and FGF, and cytokines such as IL-2, IL-6, and GM-CSF stimulate intracellular events. Binding of these substances to their respective receptors on target cells can activate Ras, triggering intracellular signaling cascades which culminate in processes such as cell proliferation, differentiation, and T-cell activation. Protein prenylation inhibitors block Ras prenylation, prevent membrane localization of Ras, and inhibit growth and proliferation of a variety of cell types. Recent studies in our laboratory have begun to examine the possible role of Ras in chronic allograft rejection. Abdominal aorta segments from donor Lewis rats were transplanted into Buffalo recipient rats. Recipients treated with the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor lovastatin, which inhibits isoprenoid production, showed significantly decreased allograft intimal area after 12 weeks, when compared with untreated recipients. In a separate study, recipients treated with the agent leflunomide, which inhibits growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases that can activate Ras, had significantly decreased allograft intimal area after 12 weeks. These results suggest that Ras may be important in chronic allograft rejection, and that agents that interfere with Ras protein prenylation or activation by growth factor receptors may ameliorate chronic rejection.