The mechanism of inhibition of phosphatidylcholine (PC) biosynthesis by the isoprenoid farnesol was investigated in the human leukaemic CEM-C1 cell line. Cells were preincubated with 20 microM farnesol for up to 2 h and pulsed with [3H]choline. PC biosynthesis was inhibited to one-quarter at the step catalysed by cholinephosphotransferase (CPT). CPT activity in cellular homogenates from farnesol-treated cells was significantly decreased, but no changes in cytidylyltransferase activity or diacylglycerol concentration were observed. Measurements of CPT activity in the experiments in which farnesol was added directly to the homogenates or microsomal fractions demonstrated that farnesol did not affect CPT activity. However, cytosol from farnesol-treated samples decreased microsomal CPT activity almost twice as much as did cytosol from controls. This effect was found to be heat-stable, and disappeared after dialysis, but could not be attributed to farnesol present in the cytosol. The effect of farnesol was specific when compared with other structurally similar isoprenoids. We conclude that farnesol brings about changes in cultured cells, leading to decreased CPT activity, and thus to the inhibition of PC biosynthesis.
- © 1993 The Biochemical Society, London