Specificity of fatty acid acylation of cellular proteins

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Labeling of the BC3H1 muscle cell line with [3H]palmitate and [3H]myristate results in the incorporation of these fatty acids into a broad spectrum of different proteins. The patterns of proteins which are labeled with palmitate and myristate are distinct, indicating a high degree of specificity of fatty acylation with respect to acyl chain length. The protein-linked [3H]palmitate is released by treatment with neutral hydroxylamine or by alkaline methanolysis consistent with a thioester linkage or a very reactive ester linkage. In contrast, only a small fraction of the [3H]myristate which is attached to proteins is released by treatment with hydroxylamine or alkaline methanolysis, suggesting that myristate is linked to proteins primarily through amide bonds. The specificity of fatty acid acylation has also been examined in 3T3 mouse fibroblasts and in PC12 cells, a rat pheochromacytoma cell line. In both cells, palmitate is primarily linked to proteins by a hydroxylamine-labile linkage while the major fraction of the myristic acid (60-70%) is linked to protein via amide linkage and the remainder via an ester linkage. Major differences were noted in the rate of fatty acid metabolism in these cells; in particular in 3T3 cells only 33% of the radioactivity incorporated from myristic acid into proteins is in the form of fatty acids. The remainder is presumably the result of conversion of label to amino acids. In BC3H1 cells, palmitate- and myristate-containing proteins also exhibit differences in subcellular localization. [3H]Palmitate-labeled proteins are found almost exclusively in membranes, whereas [3H]myristate-labeled proteins are distributed in both the soluble and membrane fractions. These results demonstrate that fatty acid acylation is a covalent modification common to a wide range of cellular proteins and is not restricted solely to membrane-associated proteins. The major acylated proteins in the various cell lines examined appear to be different, suggesting that the acylated proteins are concerned with specialized cell functions. The linkages through which fatty acids are attached to proteins also appear to be highly specific with respect to the fatty acid chain length.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3784-3790
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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