Neurons depend upon neurotransmitter release through regulated exocytosis to accomplish the immense processing performed within the central nervous system. The SNARE hypothesis points to a family of proteins that are thought to enable the membrane fusion that leads to exocytosis. The secondary structure of SNAP-25 is unique among SNARE proteins in that it has two alpha helical SNARE motifs and a cysteine rich (C85, C88, C90, C92) membrane interacting region but notransmembrane domain. The cysteines may be modified by palmitoylation or oxidation but the role of these modifications in vivo is not well understood. Our goal is to elucidate possible regulatory roles of SNAP-25 that relate to its unique structure and these reversible modifications. However, the study of SNAP-25 in reconstituted systems is hampered by a lack of readily available palmitoylated SNAP-25. A method for in vitro palmitoylation of SNAP-25 by HIP14, a neuronal acyltransferase, is described along with the application of a biotinylation streptavidin assay to verify palmitoylation. Palmitoylation increases the extent to which SNAP-25 interacts with lipids as observed with an environment sensitive trpytophan fluorescence assay. Palmitoylation also alters the phase transition of DPPC lipids differently than unpalmitoylated SNAP-25.This effect on the membrane may influence fusion events. Oxidation of the cysteine residues may be responsible for the sensitivity of SNAP-25 to reactive oxygen species. Our data suggests that, when oxidized, SNAP-25 does not interact with membranes to the same extent as palmitoylated SNAP-25. This may provide a mechanism for reducing exocytosis during oxidative stress. Also, oxidized SNAP-25 is not susceptible to Botulinum Neurotoxin E. The effects of oxidation and palmitoylation on the protein interactions of SNAP-25 may shed light on its role in the SNARE complex and membrane fusion.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Neuroscience



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SNAP-25, palmitoylation, SNARE, N-Ethylmaleimide, biotin, exocytosis, membrane fusion, Botulinum Neurotoxin, differential scanning calorimetry, tryptophan fluorescence, oxidation