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J Biol Chem. 2012 Apr 27;287(18):14718-25. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.335547. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

Distinct acyl protein transferases and thioesterases control surface expression of calcium-activated potassium channels.

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Centre for Integrative Physiology, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9XD, Scotland.


Protein palmitoylation is rapidly emerging as an important determinant in the regulation of ion channels, including large conductance calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels. However, the enzymes that control channel palmitoylation are largely unknown. Indeed, although palmitoylation is the only reversible lipid modification of proteins, acyl thioesterases that control ion channel depalmitoylation have not been identified. Here, we demonstrate that palmitoylation of the intracellular S0-S1 loop of BK channels is controlled by two of the 23 mammalian palmitoyl-transferases, zDHHC22 and zDHHC23. Palmitoylation by these acyl transferases is essential for efficient cell surface expression of BK channels. In contrast, depalmitoylation is controlled by the cytosolic thioesterase APT1 (LYPLA1), but not APT2 (LYPLA2). In addition, we identify a splice variant of LYPLAL1, a homolog with ∼30% identity to APT1, that also controls BK channel depalmitoylation. Thus, both palmitoyl acyltransferases and acyl thioesterases display discrete substrate specificity for BK channels. Because depalmitoylated BK channels are retarded in the trans-Golgi network, reversible protein palmitoylation provides a critical checkpoint to regulate exit from the trans-Golgi network and thus control BK channel cell surface expression.

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