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EMBO J. 1998 Nov 2;17(21):6178-87.

A four-to-one association between peptide motifs: four C-terminal domains from cholinesterase assemble with one proline-rich attachment domain (PRAD) in the secretory pathway.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire, CNRS URA 1857, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 46 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris, France.


The major type of acetylcholinesterase in vertebrates (AChET) is characterized by the presence of a short C-terminal domain of 40 residues, the 'tryptophan amphiphilic tetramerization' (WAT) domain. The presence of this domain is not necessary for catalytic activity but is responsible for hydrophobic interactions and for the capacity of AChET subunits to form quaternary associations with anchoring proteins, thereby conditioning their functional localization. In the collagen tail of asymmetric forms, we characterized a small conserved region that is sufficient for binding an AChET tetramer, the proline-rich attachment domain (PRAD). We show that the WAT domain alone is sufficient for association with the PRAD, and that it can attach foreign proteins (alkaline phosphatase, GFP) to a PRAD-containing construct with a glycophosphatidylinositol anchor (GPI), and thus anchor them to the cell surface. Furthermore, we show that isolated WAT domains, or proteins containing a WAT domain, can replace individual AChET subunits in PRAD-linked tetramers. This suggests that the four WAT domains interact with the PRAD in a similar manner. These quaternary interactions can form without intercatenary disulfide bonds. The common catalytic domains of AChE are not necessary for tetrameric assembly, although they may contribute to the stability of the tetramer.

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