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Biochem J. 1993 Apr 15;291 ( Pt 2):349-53.

A novel N-terminal motif for palmitoylation of G-protein alpha subunits.

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Dipartimento di Farmacología, Milan, Italy.


We have examined the post-translational processing of G alpha subunits expressed endogenously in rat PC12 and NG108-15 rat/mouse hybrid cells, and after transfection of cDNA expression constructs into COS cells. Thioester-linked palmitoylation of alpha o, alpha s, alpha q/alpha 11 and alpha 12 has been detected by metabolic labelling with [3H]palmitate and immunoprecipitation. Palmitoylation of alpha o occurs post-translationally in cells treated with protein-synthesis inhibitors, suggesting possible dynamic acylation. Palmitoylation of the C-terminal CAAX motif has been excluded. Site-directed mutagenesis of alpha o has been used to implicate the site of modification as a cysteine residue next to the N-terminal myristoylated glycine, in a novel protein-lipid modification motif Met-Gly-Cys. The non-palmitoylated alpha o mutant is still myristoylated but shows reduced membrane binding, suggesting that reversible palmitoylation may regulate G alpha localization and function.

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