The Majority of Cellular Fatty Acid Acylated Proteins Are Localized to the Cytoplasmic Surface of the Plasma Membrane

Celeste A. Wilcox, Eric N. Olson

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35 Scopus citations


The BC3H1 muscle cell line was previously reported to contain a broad array of fatty acid acylated proteins [Olson, E.N., Towler, D.A., & Glaser, L. (1985) J. Biol. Chem. 260, 3784–3790]. Palmitate was shown to be attached to membrane proteins posttranslationally through thiol ester linkages, whereas myristate was attached cotranslationally, or within seconds thereafter, to soluble and membrane-bound proteins through amide linkages [Olson, E.N., & Spizz, G. (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261, 2458–2466]. The temporal and subcellular differences between palmitate and myristate acylation suggested that these two classes of acyl proteins might follow different intracellular pathways to distinct subcellular membrane systems or organelles. In this study, we examined the subcellular localization of the major fatty acylated proteins in BC3H1 cells. Palmitate-containing proteins were localized to the plasma membrane, but only a subset of myristate-containing proteins was localized to this membrane fraction. The majority of acyl proteins were nonglycosylated and resistant to digestion with extracellular proteases, suggesting that they were not exposed to the external surface of the plasma membrane. Many proteins were, however, digested during incubation of isolated membranes with proteases, which indicates that these proteins face the cytoplasm. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of proteins labeled with [3H]palmitate and [3H]myristate revealed that individual proteins were modified by only one of the two fatty acids and did not undergo both N-linked myristylation and ester-linked palmitylation. Together, these results suggest that the majority of cellular acyl proteins are routed to the cytoplasmic surface of the plasma membrane, and they raise the possibility that fatty acid acylation may play a role in intracellular sorting of nontransmembranous, nonglycosylated membrane proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1029-1036
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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