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Cell. 2008 Feb 8;132(3):387-96. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2008.01.017.

Identification of the acyltransferase that octanoylates ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating peptide hormone.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.


Ghrelin is a 28 amino acid, appetite-stimulating peptide hormone secreted by the food-deprived stomach. Serine-3 of ghrelin is acylated with an eight-carbon fatty acid, octanoate, which is required for its endocrine actions. Here, we identify GOAT (Ghrelin O-Acyltransferase), a polytopic membrane-bound enzyme that attaches octanoate to serine-3 of ghrelin. Analysis of the mouse genome revealed that GOAT belongs to a family of 16 hydrophobic membrane-bound acyltransferases that includes Porcupine, which attaches long-chain fatty acids to Wnt proteins. GOAT is the only member of this family that octanoylates ghrelin when coexpressed in cultured endocrine cell lines with prepro-ghrelin. GOAT activity requires catalytic asparagine and histidine residues that are conserved in this family. Consistent with its function, GOAT mRNA is largely restricted to stomach and intestine, the major ghrelin-secreting tissues. Identification of GOAT will facilitate the search for inhibitors that reduce appetite and diminish obesity in humans.

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