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We and others have recently shown that the major molecular target of nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate drugs is farnesyl diphosphate synthase, an enzyme in the mevalonate pathway. In an in vitro screen, we discovered a bisphosphonate, NE21650, that potently inhibited farnesyl diphosphate synthase but, unlike other N-BPs investigated, was also a weak inhibitor of isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase. NE21650 was a more potent inhibitor of protein prenylation in osteoclasts and macrophages, and a more potent inhibitor of bone resorption in vitro, than alendronate, despite very similar IC(50) values for inhibition of farnesyl diphosphate synthase. Our observations show that minor changes to the structure of bisphosphonates allow inhibition of more than one enzyme in the mevalonate pathway and suggest that loss of protein prenylation due to inhibition of more than one enzyme in the mevalonate pathway may lead to an increase in antiresorptive potency compared to bisphosphonates that only inhibit farnesyl diphosphate synthase.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem biophys res commun

Publication Date





869 - 873


Alendronate, Alkyl and Aryl Transferases, Aniline Compounds, Animals, Carbon-Carbon Double Bond Isomerases, Cells, Cultured, Diphosphonates, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Drug Evaluation, Preclinical, Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel, Geranyltranstransferase, Humans, Macrophages, Osteoclasts, Protein Prenylation, Rabbits