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J Biol Chem. 1999 Dec 24;274(52):37435-42.

N-Myristoylation and betagamma play roles beyond anchorage in the palmitoylation of the G protein alpha(o) subunit.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6084, USA.


Many of the alpha subunits of heterotrimeric GTP-binding regulatory proteins (G proteins) are palmitoylated, a modification proposed to play a key role in the stable anchorage of the subunits to the plasma membrane. Palmitoylation of alpha subunits from the G(i) family is preceded by N-myristoylation, which alone or together with betagamma probably supports a reversible interaction of the alpha subunit with membrane as a prerequisite to the eventual incorporation of palmitate. Previous studies have not addressed, however, the question of whether membrane association alone, carried out through N-myristoylation, interaction with betagamma, or other events, is sufficient for palmitoylation. We report here for alpha(o) that it is not. We found that N-myristoylation is required for palmitoylation at least in part because it supports events subsequent to membrane attachment. Mutants of alpha(o) designed to target the subunit to membrane without an N-myristoyl group are unable to be palmitoylated as evaluated by incorporation of [(3)H]palmitate. Mutants of alpha(o) unable to interact normally with betagamma yet still attach to membrane demonstrate that betagamma, in contrast, is not required for palmitoylation. betagamma becomes necessary, however, when the N-myristoyl group is absent. Our results suggest that N-myristoylation and betagamma, while almost certainly relevant to the reversible interaction of alpha(o) with membrane, also play at least partly overlapping, post-anchorage roles in palmitoylation.

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