Pools of farnesyl diphosphate and other phosphorylated products of the mevalonate pathway are essential to the post-translational processing and physiological function of small G proteins, nuclear lamins, and growth factor receptors. Inhibitors of enzyme activities providing those pools, namely, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase and mevalonic acid-pyrophosphate decarboxylase, and of activities requiring substrates from the pools, the prenyl protein transferases, have potential for development as novel chemotherapeutic agents. Their potentials as suggested by the clinical responses recorded in Phase I and II investigations of inhibitors of HMG CoA reductase (the statins), of mevalonic acid-pyrophosphate decarboxylase (sodium phenylacetate and sodium phenylbutyrate), and of farnesyl protein transferase (R115777, SCH66336, BMS-214662, Tipifarnib, L-778,123, and, prematurely, perillyl alcohol) are dimmed by dose-limiting toxicities. These nondiscriminant growth-suppressive agents induce G1 arrest and initiate apoptosis and differentiation, effects attributed to modulation of cell signaling pathways either by modulating gene expression, suppressing the post-translational processing of signaling proteins and growth factor receptors, or altering diacylglycerol signaling. Diverse isoprenoids and the HMG CoA reductase inhibitor, lovastatin, modulate cell growth, induce cell cycle arrest, initiate apoptosis, and suppress cellular signaling activities. Perillyl alcohol, the isoprenoid of greatest clinical interest, initially was considered to inhibit farnesyl protein transferase; follow-up studies revealed that perillyl alcohol suppresses the synthesis of small G proteins and HMG CoA reductase. In sterologenic tissues, sterol feedback control, mediated by sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) 1a and 2, exerts the primary regulation on HMG CoA reductase activity at the transcriptional level. Secondary regulation, a nonsterol isoprenoid-mediated fine-tuning of reductase activity, occurs at the levels of reductase translation and degradation. HMG CoA reductase activity in tumors is elevated and resistant to sterol feedback regulation, possibly as a consequence of aberrant SREBP activities. Nonetheless, tumor reductase remains sensitive to isoprenoid-mediated post-transcriptional downregulation. Farnesol, an acyclic sesquiterpene, and farnesyl homologs, gamma-tocotrienol and various farnesyl derivatives, inhibit reductase synthesis and accelerate reductase degradation. Cyclic monoterpenes, d-limonene, menthol and perillyl alcohol and beta-ionone, a carotenoid fragment, lower reductase mass; perillyl alcohol and d-limonene lower reductase mass by modulating translational efficiency. The elevated reductase expression and greater demand for nonsterol products to maintain growth amplify the susceptibility of tumor reductase to isoprenoids, therein rendering tumor cells more responsive than normal cells to isoprenoid-mediated growth suppression. Blends of lovastatin, a potent nondiscriminant inhibitor of HMG CoA reductase, and gamma-tocotrienol, a potent isoprenoid shown to post-transcription-ally attenuate reductase activity with specificity for tumors, synergistically affect the growth of human DU145 and LNCaP prostate carcinoma cells and pending extensive preclinical evaluation, potentially offer a novel chemotherapeutic strategy free of the dose-limiting toxicity associated with high-dose lovastatin and other nondiscriminant mevalonate pathway inhibitors.
The methanol extract from the aerial parts of Roldana barba-johannis (Asteraceae) afforded sargachromenol, sargahydroquinoic acid, and sargaquinoic acid. These natural products and their corresponding acetylated and methylated derivatives showed insecticidal and insect growth regulatory activities against the Fall Armyworm [Spodoptera frugiperda J.E. Smith, (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)], an important insect pest of corn. The most active compounds were sargachromenol and its acetylated derivative; sargahydroquinoic acid and its acetylated derivative; and a mixture of sargachromenol, sargahydroquinoic acid, and sargaquinoic acid (6:3:1) and the acetylated form of this mixture. All these compounds and mixtures had significant inhibitory effects between 5.0 and 20.0 ppm in diets. Most compounds were insecticidal to larvae, with lethal doses between 20 and 35 ppm. In addition, these substances also demonstrated scavenging properties toward 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical in TLC autographic and spectrophotometric assays. These compounds appear to have selective effects on the pre-emergence metabolism of the insect. The results from these compounds were fully comparable in activity to those known natural insect growth inhibitors such as gedunin and methanol extracts of Cedrela salvadorensis and Yucca periculosa. These substances may be useful as natural insecticidal agents.