Broadening the Utility of Farnesyltransferase-Catalyzed Protein Labeling Using Norbornene-Tetrazine Click Chemistry

Shelby A. Auger, Sneha Venkatachalapathy, Kiall Francis G. Suazo, Yiao Wang, Alexander W. Sarkis, Kaitlyn Bernhagen, Katarzyna Justyna, Jonas V. Schaefer, James W. Wollack, Andreas Plückthun, Ling Li, Mark D. Distefano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bioorthogonal chemistry has gained widespread use in the study of many biological systems of interest, including protein prenylation. Prenylation is a post-translational modification, in which one or two 15- or 20-carbon isoprenoid chains are transferred onto cysteine residues near the C-terminus of a target protein. The three main enzymes─protein farnesyltransferase (FTase), geranylgeranyl transferase I (GGTase I), and geranylgeranyl transferase II (GGTase II)─that catalyze this process have been shown to tolerate numerous structural modifications in the isoprenoid substrate. This feature has previously been exploited to transfer an array of farnesyl diphosphate analogues with a range of functionalities, including an alkyne-containing analogue for copper-catalyzed bioconjugation reactions. Reported here is the synthesis of an analogue of the isoprenoid substrate embedded with norbornene functionality (C10NorOPP) that can be used for an array of applications, ranging from metabolic labeling to selective protein modification. The probe was synthesized in seven steps with an overall yield of 7% and underwent an inverse electron demand Diels-Alder (IEDDA) reaction with tetrazine-containing tags, allowing for copper-free labeling of proteins. The use of C10NorOPP for the study of prenylation was explored in the metabolic labeling of prenylated proteins in HeLa, COS-7, and astrocyte cells. Furthermore, in HeLa cells, these modified prenylated proteins were identified and quantified using label-free quantification (LFQ) proteomics with 25 enriched prenylated proteins. Additionally, the unique chemistry of C10NorOPP was utilized for the construction of a multiprotein-polymer conjugate for the targeted labeling of cancer cells. That construct was prepared using a combination of norbornene-tetrazine conjugation and azide-alkyne cycloaddition, highlighting the utility of the additional degree of orthogonality for the facile assembly of new protein conjugates with novel structures and functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

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© 2024 American Chemical Society.


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