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J Biol Chem. 1992 Aug 25;267(24):16889-94.

Palmitylation of a G-protein coupled receptor. Direct analysis by tandem mass spectrometry.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425.


Bovine rhodopsin has been reported to be S-palmitylated at cysteines 322 and 323 (Ovchinnikov, Y. A., Abdulaev, N. G., and Bogachuk, A.S. (1988) FEBS Lett. 230, 1-5). Using a combination of enzymatic and chemical cleavage techniques in conjunction with tandem mass spectrometry, the sites of incorporation of the palmityl groups are shown. Bovine rhodopsin in disc membranes was digested with thermolysin to generate the C-terminal fragment (241-327), which was subsequently cleaved with cyanogen bromide to generate the peptide Val-Thr-Thr-Leu-Cys-Cys-Gly-Lys-Asn-Pro (318-327). A bis-S-palmitylated synthetic standard had the same retention time by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography as the isolated peptide and the same molecular weight (MH+1511.7) by liquid secondary ion mass spectrometry. Dithiothreitol reduction of both the isolated and the synthetic peptide cleaved the two thioester-linked palmityl groups to produce reduction products of the same appropriately decreased molecular weight (MH+1035.5). Tandem mass spectrometry of the isolated and the synthetic peptide identified the sites of attachment of the palmityl groups on cysteines 322 and 323. These results prove the modification of cysteines 322 and 323 with palmitic acid in bovine rhodopsin, and illustrate the utility of mass spectrometry to characterize the post-translational modifications in G-protein coupled receptors.

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