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J Biol Chem. 2005 Jan 14;280(2):1236-40. Epub 2004 Nov 12.

The SNARE proteins SNAP-25 and SNAP-23 display different affinities for lipid rafts in PC12 cells. Regulation by distinct cysteine-rich domains.

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Henry Wellcome Laboratory of Cell Biology, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Davidson Building, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, Scotland, United Kingdom.


SNAP-25 and its ubiquitously expressed homologue, SNAP-23, are SNARE proteins that are essential for regulated exocytosis in diverse cell types. Recent work has shown that SNAP-25 and SNAP-23 are partly localized in sphingolipid/cholesterol-rich lipid raft domains of the plasma membrane and that the integrity of these domains is important for exocytosis. Here, we show that raft localization is mediated by a 36-amino-acid region of SNAP-25 that is also the minimal sequence required for membrane targeting; this domain contains 4 closely spaced cysteine residues that are sites for palmitoylation. Analysis of endogenous levels of SNAP-25 and SNAP-23 present in lipid rafts in PC12 cells revealed that SNAP-23 (54% raft-associated) was almost 3-fold more enriched in rafts when compared with SNAP-25 (20% raft-associated). We report that the increased raft association of SNAP-23 occurs due to the substitution of a highly conserved phenylalanine residue present in SNAP-25 with a cysteine residue. Intriguingly, although the extra cysteine in SNAP-23 enhances its raft association, the phenylalanine at the same position in SNAP-25 acts to repress the raft association of this protein. These different raft-targeting signals within SNAP-25 and SNAP-23 are likely important for fine-tuning the exocytic pathways in which these proteins operate.

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