Indexed on: 25 Mar '11Published on: 25 Mar '11Published in: Journal of cell science
SNAP25 regulates membrane fusion events at the plasma membrane and in the endosomal system, and a functional pool of the protein is delivered to recycling endosomes (REs) and the trans Golgi network (TGN) through an ARF6-dependent cycling pathway. SNAP25 is a peripheral membrane protein, and palmitoylation of a cluster of four cysteine residues mediates its stable association with the membrane. Here, we report that palmitoylation also determines the precise intracellular distribution of SNAP25, and that mutating single palmitoylation sites enhances the amount of SNAP25 at the RE and TGN. The farnesylated CAAX motif from Hras was ligated onto a SNAP25 mutant truncated immediately distal to the cysteine-rich domain. This construct displayed the same intracellular distribution as full-length SNAP25, and decreasing the number of cysteine residues in this construct increased its association with the RE and TGN, confirming the dominant role of the cysteine-rich domain in directing the intracellular distribution of SNAP25. Marked differences in the localisations of SNAP25-CAAX and Hras constructs, each with two palmitoylation sites, were observed, showing that subtle differences in palmitoylated sequences can have a major impact upon intracellular targeting. We propose that the cysteine-rich domain of SNAP25 is designed to facilitate the dual function of this SNARE protein at the plasma membrane and endosomes, and that dynamic palmitoylation acts as a mechanism to regulate the precise intracellular patterning of SNAP25.