Sudo Y, Valenzuela D, Beck-Sickinger AG, Fishman MC, Strittmatter SM. 1992. Palmitoylation alters protein activity: blockade of G(o) stimulation by GAP-43. The EMBO journal. 11(6):2095-102. Pubmed: 1534749


The addition of palmitate to cysteine residues enhances the hydrophobicity of proteins, and consequently their membrane association. Here we have investigated whether this type of fatty acylation also regulates protein-protein interactions. GAP-43 is a neuronal protein that increases guanine nucleotide exchange by heterotrimeric G proteins. Two cysteine residues near the N-terminus of GAP-43 are subject to palmitoylation, and are necessary for membrane binding as well as for G(o) activation. N-terminal peptides, which include these cysteines, stimulate G(o). Monopalmitoylation reduces, and dipalmitoylation abolishes the activity of the peptides. The activity of GAP-43 protein purified from brain also is reversibly blocked by palmitoylation. This suggests that palmitoylation controls a cycle of GAP-43 between an acylated, membrane-bound reservoir of inactive GAP-43, and a depalmitoylated, active pool of protein.

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Photo of Mark C. Fishman

Mark C. Fishman’s group studies the heart-brain connection. They employ a range of genetic, developmental, and neurobiological tools in zebrafish to understand what the heart tells the brain, and how critical internal sensory systems adjust homeostatic and somatic behaviors, including social interactions.

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