Improved synthesis and application of an alkyne-functionalized isoprenoid analogue to study the prenylomes of motor neurons, astrocytes and their stem cell progenitors

Kiall F. Suazo, Vartika Mishra, Sanjay Maity, Shelby A. Auger, Katarzyna Justyna, Alexandru M. Petre, Linda Ottoboni, Jessica Ongaro, Stefania P. Corti, Francesco Lotti, Serge Przedborski, Mark D. Distefano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protein prenylation is one example of a broad class of post-translational modifications where proteins are covalently linked to various hydrophobic moieties. To globally identify and monitor levels of all prenylated proteins in a cell simultaneously, our laboratory and others have developed chemical proteomic approaches that rely on the metabolic incorporation of isoprenoid analogues bearing bio-orthogonal functionality followed by enrichment and subsequent quantitative proteomic analysis. Here, several improvements in the synthesis of the alkyne-containing isoprenoid analogue C15AlkOPP are reported to improve synthetic efficiency. Next, metabolic labeling with C15AlkOPP was optimized to obtain useful levels of metabolic incorporation of the probe in several types of primary cells. Those conditions were then used to study the prenylomes of motor neurons (ES-MNs), astrocytes (ES-As), and their embryonic stem cell progenitors (ESCs), which allowed for the identification of 54 prenylated proteins from ESCs, 50 from ES-MNs, and 84 from ES-As, representing all types of prenylation. Bioinformatic analysis revealed specific enriched pathways, including nervous system development, chemokine signaling, Rho GTPase signaling, and adhesion. Hierarchical clustering showed that most enriched pathways in all three cell types are related to GTPase activity and vesicular transport. In contrast, STRING analysis showed significant interactions in two populations that appear to be cell type dependent. The data provided herein demonstrates that robust incorporation of C15AlkOPP can be obtained in ES-MNs and related primary cells purified via magnetic-activated cell sorting allowing the identification and quantification of numerous prenylated proteins. These results suggest that metabolic labeling with C15AlkOPP should be an effective approach for investigating the role of prenylated proteins in primary cells in both normal cells and disease pathologies, including ALS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107365
JournalBioorganic Chemistry
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Inc.


  • Click chemistry
  • Farnesylation
  • Geranylgeranylation
  • Metabolic labeling
  • Prenylation
  • Proteomics
  • Synthetic probe


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