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Exp Cell Res. 2007 Sep 10;313(15):3189-97. Epub 2007 Jun 27.

Characterization of the C-terminal ER membrane anchor of PTP1B.

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Department of Physiology, University of the Saarland, D-66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany.


The tyrosine phosphatase PTP1B is an important regulator of cell function. In living cells PTP1B activity is restricted to the vicinity of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) by post-translational C-terminal attachment of PTP1B to the ER membrane network. In our study we investigated the membrane anchor of PTP1B by use of EGFP fusion proteins. We demonstrate that the membrane anchor of PTP1B cannot be narrowed down to a unique amino acid sequence with a defined start and stop point but rather is moveable within several amino acids. Removal of up to seven amino acids from the C-terminus, as well as exchange of single amino acids in the putative transmembrane sequence did not influence subcellular localization of PTP1B. With the method of bimolecular fluorescence complementation we could demonstrate dimerization of PTP1B in vivo. Homodimerization was, in contrast to other tail-anchored proteins, not dependent on the membrane anchor. Our data demonstrate that the C-terminal membrane anchor of PTP1B is formed by a combination of a single stretch transmembrane domain (TMD) followed by a tail. TMD and tail length are variable and there are no sequence-specific features. Our data for PTP1B are consistent with a concept that explains the ER membrane anchor of tail-anchored proteins as a physicochemical structure.

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