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PLoS One. 2010 Nov 30;5(11):e15045. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015045.

Acyl-protein thioesterase 2 catalyzes the deacylation of peripheral membrane-associated GAP-43.

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Centro de Investigaciones en Química Biológica de Córdoba (CIQUIBIC, UNC-CONICET), Departamento de Química Biológica, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina.


An acylation/deacylation cycle is necessary to maintain the steady-state subcellular distribution and biological activity of S-acylated peripheral proteins. Despite the progress that has been made in identifying and characterizing palmitoyltransferases (PATs), much less is known about the thioesterases involved in protein deacylation. In this work, we investigated the deacylation of growth-associated protein-43 (GAP-43), a dually acylated protein at cysteine residues 3 and 4. Using fluorescent fusion constructs, we measured in vivo the rate of deacylation of GAP-43 and its single acylated mutants in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO)-K1 and human HeLa cells. Biochemical and live cell imaging experiments demonstrated that single acylated mutants were completely deacylated with similar kinetic in both cell types. By RT-PCR we observed that acyl-protein thioesterase 1 (APT-1), the only bona fide thioesterase shown to mediate deacylation in vivo, is expressed in HeLa cells, but not in CHO-K1 cells. However, APT-1 overexpression neither increased the deacylation rate of single acylated GAP-43 nor affected the steady-state subcellular distribution of dually acylated GAP-43 both in CHO-K1 and HeLa cells, indicating that GAP-43 deacylation is not mediated by APT-1. Accordingly, we performed a bioinformatic search to identify putative candidates with acyl-protein thioesterase activity. Among several candidates, we found that APT-2 is expressed both in CHO-K1 and HeLa cells and its overexpression increased the deacylation rate of single acylated GAP-43 and affected the steady-state localization of diacylated GAP-43 and H-Ras. Thus, the results demonstrate that APT-2 is the protein thioesterase involved in the acylation/deacylation cycle operating in GAP-43 subcellular distribution.

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