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Non-Peptidic Prenyltransferase Inhibitors: Diverse Structural Classes and Surprising Anti-Cancer Mechanisms

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The development of farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs) has been one of the most active areas of anticancer drug development for the past ten years. This review presents a general overview of the developments in this area, along with a critical appraisal of the anticancer activity of FTIs. A historical survey of the protein prenylation field is given, in particular to emphasize the key role played by the Ras oncoprotein in driving the discovery of prenyltransferase enzymes. The different classes of prenylated proteins will be described along with the biochemical characteristics of the key drug target - farnesyltransferase (FTase). Numerous potent farnesyltransferase inhibitors have been developed. The FTIs developed can be separated into three different categories, based on their origin and / or mechanism of action: a) natural products b) peptidomimetics and other CAAX-competitive inhibitors c) farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) mimetics or analogs and other FPP-competitive inhibitors. Along with a survey of newer FTIs in each class, the development of several representative, potent compounds will be discussed in depth as we discuss the potential advantages and liabilities of each class. Particular emphasis is given to the discovery of new, more potent FPP-competitive FTIs of several diverse structural classes. Testing of different FTIs for their ability to block the growth of various cancer cell types in animal models will be discussed. There are a number of key differences between these compounds and traditional cytotoxic cancer chemotherapeutic agents, with surprising exceptions to their expected modes of action. As some FTIs have entered human clinical trials, answers may soon become available to key mechanistic questions concerning the extent and nature of their antitumor growth properties.
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Keywords: Non-Peptidic Prenyltransferase Inhibitors; Prenylation; Prenyltransferase; Protein Farnesyltransferase (FTase); Protein Geranylgeranyltransferase I (GGTase I); Protein Geranylgeranyltransferase II; Rholosporidium; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Toruloides; farnesyltransferase inhibitors

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 01 October 2001

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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