Protein farnesyltransferase and geranylgeranyltransferase share a common α subunit

Miguel C. Seabra, Yuval Reiss, Patrick J. Casey, Michael S. Brown, Joseph L. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

303 Scopus citations


Mammalian farnesyltransferase, which attaches a 15 carbon isoprenoid, farnesyl, to a cysteine in p21ras proteins, contains two subunits, α and β. The β subunit is known to bind p21ras proteins. We show here that the α subunit is shared with another prenyltransferase that attaches 20 carbon geranylgeranyl to Ras-related proteins. Farnesyltransferase and geranylgeranyltransferase have similar molecular weights on gel filtration, but are separated by ion exchange chromatography. Both enzymes are precipitated and immunoblotted by multiple antibodies directed against the a subunit of farnesyltransferase. The two transferases have different specificities for the protein acceptor; farnesyltransferase prefers methionine or serine at the COOH-terminus and geranylgeranyltransferase prefers leucine. The current data indicate that both prenyltransferases are heterodimers that share a common a subunit with different β subunits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-434
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 3 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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