The smaller isoform of the GABA synthesizing enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase, GAD65, is synthesized as a soluble protein that undergoes posttranslational modification(s) in the NH2-terminal region to become anchored to the membrane of small synaptic-like microvesicles in pancreatic β cells, and synaptic vesicles in GABA-ergic neurons. A soluble hydrophilic form, a soluble hydrophobic form, and a hydrophobic firmly membrane-anchored form have been detected in β cells. A reversible and hydroxylamine sensitive palmitoylation has been shown to distinguish the firmly membrane-anchored form from the soluble yet hydrophobic form, suggesting that palmitoylation of cysteines in the NH2-terminal region is involved in membrane anchoring. In this study we use site-directed mutagenesis to identify the first two cysteines in the NH2-terminal region, Cys 30 and Cys 45, as the sites of palmitoylation of the GAD65 molecule. Mutation of Cys 30 and Cys 45 to Ala results in a loss of palmitoylation but does not significantly alter membrane association of GAD65 in COS-7 cells. Deletion of the first 23 amino acids at the NH2 terminus of the GAD6530/45A mutant also does not affect the hydrophobicity and membrane anchoring of the GAD65 protein. However, deletion of an additional eight amino acids at the NH2 terminus results in a protein which is hydrophilic and cytosolic. The results suggest that amino acids 24-31 are required for hydrophobic modification and/or targeting of GAD65 to membrane compartments, whereas palmitoylation of Cys 30 and Cys 45 may rather serve to orient or fold the protein at synaptic vesicle membranes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology