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J Biol Chem. 2010 Jul 30;285(31):23954-62. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.137802. Epub 2010 May 27.

Multiple palmitoyltransferases are required for palmitoylation-dependent regulation of large conductance calcium- and voltage-activated potassium channels.

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Centre for Integrative Physiology, College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH89XD, Scotland, United Kingdom.


Palmitoylation is emerging as an important and dynamic regulator of ion channel function; however, the specificity with which the large family of acyl palmitoyltransferases (zinc finger Asp-His-His-Cys type-containing acyl palmitoyltransferase (DHHCs)) control channel palmitoylation is poorly understood. We have previously demonstrated that the alternatively spliced stress-regulated exon (STREX) variant of the intracellular C-terminal domain of the large conductance calcium- and voltage-activated potassium (BK) channels is palmitoylated and targets the STREX domain to the plasma membrane. Using a combined imaging, biochemical, and functional approach coupled with loss-of-function (small interfering RNA knockdown of endogenous DHHCs) and gain-of-function (overexpression of recombinant DHHCs) assays, we demonstrate that multiple DHHCs control palmitoylation of the C terminus of STREX channels, the association of the STREX domain with the plasma membrane, and functional channel regulation. Cysteine residues 12 and 13 within the STREX insert were the only endogenously palmitoylated residues in the entire C terminus of the STREX channel. Palmitoylation of this dicysteine motif was controlled by DHHCs 3, 5, 7, 9, and 17, although DHHC17 showed the greatest specificity for this site upon overexpression of the cognate DHHC. DHHCs that palmitoylated the channel also co-assembled with the channel in co-immunoprecipitation experiments, and knockdown of any of these DHHCs blocked regulation of the channel by protein kinase A-dependent phosphorylation. Taken together our data reveal that a subset of DHHCs controls STREX palmitoylation and function and suggest that DHHC17 may preferentially target cysteine-rich domains. Finally, our approach may prove useful in elucidating the specificity of DHHC palmitoylation of intracellular domains of other ion channels and transmembrane proteins.

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