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Nat Methods. 2011 Nov 6;9(1):84-9. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1769.

Global profiling of dynamic protein palmitoylation.

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The Department of Chemical Physiology and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA.


The reversible thioester linkage of palmitic acid on cysteines, known as protein S-palmitoylation, facilitates the membrane association and proper subcellular localization of proteins. Here we report the metabolic incorporation of the palmitic acid analog 17-octadecynoic acid (17-ODYA) in combination with stable-isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) and pulse-chase methods to generate a global quantitative map of dynamic protein palmitoylation events in cells. We distinguished stably palmitoylated proteins from those that turn over rapidly. Treatment with a serine lipase-selective inhibitor identified a pool of dynamically palmitoylated proteins regulated by palmitoyl-protein thioesterases. This subset was enriched in oncoproteins and other proteins linked to aberrant cell growth, migration and cancer. Our method provides a straightforward way to characterize global palmitoylation dynamics in cells and confirms enzyme-mediated depalmitoylation as a critical regulatory mechanism for a specific subset of rapidly cycling palmitoylated proteins.

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