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J Biol Chem. 2004 Nov 26;279(48):50524-36. Epub 2004 Sep 7.

Presynaptic trafficking of synaptotagmin I is regulated by protein palmitoylation.

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Department of Psychiatry, Centre for Complex Disorders, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Protein palmitoylation plays a critical role in sorting and targeting of several proteins to pre- and postsynaptic sites. In this study, we have analyzed the role of palmitoylation in trafficking of synaptotagmin I and its modulation by synaptic activity. We found that palmitoylation of N-terminal cysteines contributed to sorting of synaptotagmin I to an intracellular vesicular compartment at the presynaptic terminal. Presynaptic targeting is a unique feature of N-terminal sequences of synaptotagmin I because the palmitoylated N terminus of synaptotagmin VII failed to localize to presynaptic sites. We also found that palmitate was stably associated with both synaptotagmin I and SNAP-25 and that rapid neuronal depolarization did not affect palmitate turnover on these proteins. However, long-term treatment with drugs that either block synaptic activity or disrupt SNARE complex assembly modulated palmitoylation and accumulation of synaptotagmin I at presynaptic sites. We conclude that palmitoylation is involved in trafficking of specific elements involved in transmitter release and that distinct mechanisms regulate addition and removal of palmitate on select neuronal proteins.

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