Quantitative determination of geranyl diphosphate levels in cultured human cells

Sarah A. Holstein, Huaxiang Tong, Craig H. Kuder, Raymond J. Hohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Geranyl diphosphate (GPP), a 10-carbon isoprenoid, is a key intermediate in the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway. This pathway, in addition to leading to sterol synthesis, results in the synthesis of farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) and geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP), which serve as substrates for protein isoprenylation reactions. Basal levels of GPP in mammalian cells previously have been undetectable. Here we present a novel, sensitive, nonradioactive method which allows for measurement of GPP in mammalian cells. This methodology involves extraction of isoprenoids from cultured cells followed by enzymatic conjugation of GPP to a fluorescent dansylated-peptide via farnesyl transferase and quantification with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The lower limit of detection of GPP is 5 pg, or 0.015 pmol. Basal levels of GPP were determined in three human multiple myeloma cell lines (RPMI-8226, U266, H929). Treatment of cells with inhibitors of the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway results in marked changes in GPP levels: the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor lovastatin decreases GPP levels by over 50%, while the FPP synthase inhibitor zoledronic acid increases GPP levels 16- to 107-fold. This method also allows for the simultaneous measurement of GPP, FPP, and GGPP, thus leading to improved understanding of the pathway in a multitude of biological systems. Furthermore, as drugs targeting this pathway are developed, their biological activity can be more directly linked to effects on isoprenoid levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1062
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Farnesyl diphosphate
  • Fluorescence detection
  • Geranyl diphosphate
  • Geranylgeranyl diphosphate
  • High performance liquid chromatography, isoprenylation
  • Isoprenoid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitative determination of geranyl diphosphate levels in cultured human cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this