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J Cell Biol. 2000 Jan 10;148(1):159-72.

Dual palmitoylation of PSD-95 mediates its vesiculotubular sorting, postsynaptic targeting, and ion channel clustering.

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Department of Physiology, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95/SAP-90) is a palmitoylated peripheral membrane protein that scaffolds ion channels at excitatory synapses. To elucidate mechanisms for postsynaptic ion channel clustering, we analyzed the cellular trafficking of PSD-95. We find that PSD-95 transiently associates with a perinuclear membranous compartment and traffics with vesiculotubular structures, which migrate in a microtubule-dependent manner. Trafficking of PSD-95 with these vesiculotubular structures requires dual palmitoylation, which is specified by five consecutive hydrophobic residues at the NH(2) terminus. Mutations that disrupt dual palmitoylation of PSD-95 block both ion channel clustering by PSD-95 and its synaptic targeting. Replacing the palmitoylated NH(2) terminus of PSD-95 with alternative palmitoylation motifs at either the NH(2) or COOH termini restores ion channel clustering also induces postsynaptic targeting, respectively. In brain, we find that PSD-95 occurs not only at PSDs but also in association with intracellular smooth tubular structures in dendrites and spines. These data imply that PSD-95 is an itinerant vesicular protein; initial targeting of PSD-95 to an intracellular membrane compartment may participate in postsynaptic ion channel clustering by PSD-95.

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