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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jul 23;279(30):31973-82. Epub 2004 May 25.

B cell signaling is regulated by induced palmitoylation of CD81.

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Laboratory of Immunogenetics, NIAID, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA.


Signaling through the B cell antigen receptor (BCR) is amplified and prolonged by coligation of the BCR to the CD19/CD21/CD81 coreceptor complex. Coligation is induced during immune responses by the simultaneous binding of complement-tagged antigens to the complement receptor, CD21, and to the BCR. Enhanced signaling is due in part to the ability of the CD19/CD21/CD81 complex to stabilize the BCR in sphingolipid- and cholesterol-rich membrane microdomains termed lipid rafts. The tetraspanin CD81 is essential for the raft-stabilizing function of the coreceptor. Here we show that coligation of the BCR and the CD19/CD21/CD81 complex leads to selective, rapid, and reversible palmitoylation of CD81 and that palmitoylation is necessary for the raft stabilizing function of the CD19/CD21/CD81 complex. Inducible palmitoylation may represent a novel mechanism by which tetraspanins function to facilitate lipid raft-dependent receptor signaling.

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