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Plant Methods. 2008 Jan 11;4:2. doi: 10.1186/1746-4811-4-2.

Assaying protein palmitoylation in plants.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.



Protein S-acylation (also known as palmitoylation) is the reversible post-translational addition of acyl lipids to cysteine residues in proteins through a thioester bond. It allows strong association with membranes. Whilst prediction methods for S-acylation exist, prediction is imperfect. Existing protocols for demonstrating the S-acylation of plant proteins are either laborious and time consuming or expensive.


We describe a biotin switch method for assaying the S-acylation of plant proteins. We demonstrate the technique by showing that the heterotrimeric G protein subunit AGG2 is S-acylated as predicted by mutagenesis experiments. We also show that a proportion of the Arabidopsis alpha-tubulin subunit pool is S-acylated in planta. This may account for the observed membrane association of plant microtubules. As alpha-tubulins are ubiquitously expressed they can potentially be used as a positive control for the S-acylation assay regardless of the cell type under study.


We provide a robust biotin switch protocol that allows the rapid assay of protein S-acylation state in plants, using standard laboratory techniques and without the need for expensive or specialised equipment. We propose alpha-tubulin as a useful positive control for the protocol.

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