Science China Life Sciences

, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 328–335 | Cite as

Protein prenylation and human diseases: a balance of protein farnesylation and geranylgeranylation

  • Na Xu
  • Ning Shen
  • XiuXing Wang
  • Shan Jiang
  • Bin Xue
  • ChaoJun Li
Open Access
Review Special Topic: Model Animals and Their Applications


The protein prenylation is one of the essential post-translational protein modifications, which extensively exists in the eukaryocyte. It includes protein farnesylation and geranylgeranylation, using farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) or geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) as the substrate, respectively. The prenylation occurs by covalent addition of these two types of isoprenoids to cysteine residues at or near the carboxyl terminus of the proteins that possess CaaX motif, such as Ras small GTPase family. The attachment of hydrophobic prenyl groups can anchor the proteins to intracellular membranes and trigger downstream cell signaling pathway. Geranylgeranyl biphosphate synthase (GGPPS) catalyzes the synthesis of 20-carbon GGPP from 15-carbon FPP. The abnormal expression of this enzyme will affect the relative content of FPP and GGPP, and thus disrupts the balance between protein farnesylation and geranylgeranylation, which participates into various aspects of cellular physiology and pathology. In this paper, we mainly review the property of this important protein post-translational modification and research progress in its regulation of cigarette smoke induced pulmonary disease, adipocyte insulin sensitivity, the inflammation response of Sertoli cells, the hepatic lipogenesis and the cardiac hypertrophy.


protein prenylation GGPP FPP biological function regulation 


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© The Author(s) 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Na Xu
    • 1
  • Ning Shen
    • 1
  • XiuXing Wang
    • 1
  • Shan Jiang
    • 1
  • Bin Xue
    • 1
  • ChaoJun Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Model Animals for Disease StudyModel Animal Research Center and Medical School of Nanjing University, National Resource Center for Mutant MiceNanjingChina

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