In vivo protein prenylation was studied in newborn rats by repeated injections of [3H]mevalonate. The highest level of protein-bound mevalonate metabolites was found in the kidney, but incorporation was observed in all organs studied. After fluorography of SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis-separated polypeptides, labeling was found in the 21- to 28-kDa molecular mass region and, after prolonged exposure of the film, additional bands at both higher and lower molecular masses could be detected. Protein prenylation in the kidney increased during the first 5 days after birth, whereas that in the liver reached a maximum on the fourth day. After methyliodide treatment of the prenylated proteins, farnesol, geranylgeraniol, and two larger isoprenoids, pentaprenol and hexaprenol, were released. In the liver, the ratio of protein-bound geranylgeraniol to farnesol increased from 2 to 4.5 during the first 5 days after birth. Upon subfractionation of the kidney, the highest level of labeling was found in mitochondria and microsomes. When the mitochondria were subfractionated into outer membranes, intermembrane space and an inner membrane/matrix fraction, the labeling pattern of prenylated polypeptides differed in all fractions. The results demonstrate that in vivo labeling of rats can be performed to study the extent, type, and distribution of protein prenylation.
1999. Vol. 364, no 2, 153-60 p.