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Biochem J. 2007 Mar 15;402(3):515-23.

Post-translational palmitoylation and glycosylation of Wnt-5a are necessary for its signalling.

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Department of Biochemistry, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima 734-8551, Japan.


Wnt-5a is a representative ligand that activates a beta-catenin-independent pathway in Wnt signalling. In the present paper, the roles of the post-translational modifications in the actions of Wnt-5a were investigated. We found that Wnt-5a is modified with palmitate at Cys104 and glycans at Asn114, Asn120, Asn311 and Asn325. The palmitoylation was not essential for the secretion of Wnt-5a, but was necessary for its ability to suppress Wnt-3a-dependent T-cell factor transcriptional activity and to stimulate cell migration. Wnt-5a activated focal adhesion kinase and this activation also required palmitoylation. Wild-type Wnt-5a induced the internalization of Fz (Frizzled) 5, but a Wnt-5a mutant that lacks the palmitoylation site did not. Furthermore, the binding of Wnt-5a to the extracellular domain of Fz5 required palmitoylation of Wnt-5a. These results indicate that palmitoylation of Wnt-5a is important for the triggering of signalling at the cell surface level and, therefore, that the lipid-unmodified form of Wnt-5a cannot activate intracellular signal cascades. In contrast, glycosylation was necessary for the secretion of Wnt-5a, but not essential for the actions of Wnt-5a. Thus the post-translational palmitoylation and glycosylation of Wnt-5a are important for the actions and secretion of Wnt-5a.

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