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    Cysteine palmitoylation, a form of S-acylation, is a key posttranslational modification in cellular signaling. This type of reversible lipidation occurs in both plasma and organellar membranes, and is catalyzed by a family of integral membrane proteins known as DHHC acyltransferases. The first step in the S-acylation process is the recognition of free acyl coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) from the lipid bilayer. The DHHC enzyme then becomes autoacylated at a site defined by a conserved Asp-His-His-Cys motif. This reaction entails ionization of the catalytic Cys. Intriguingly, in known DHHC structures, this catalytic Cys appears to be exposed to the hydrophobic interior of the lipid membrane, which would be highly unfavorable for a negatively charged nucleophile, thus hindering autoacylation. Here, we use biochemical and computational methods to reconcile these seemingly contradictory facts. First, we experimentally demonstrate that human DHHC20 is active when reconstituted in POPC nanodiscs. Microsecond-long all-atom molecular dynamics simulations are then calculated for human DHHC20 and for different acyl-CoA forms, also in a POPC membrane. Strikingly, we observe that human DHHC20 induces a drastic deformation in the membrane, particularly on the cytoplasmic side, where autoacylation occurs. As a result, the catalytic Cys becomes hydrated and optimally positioned to encounter the cleavage site in acyl-CoA. In summary, we hypothesize that DHHC enzymes locally reshape the membrane to foster a morphology that is specifically adapted for acyl-CoA recognition and autoacylation. Published by Elsevier Inc.


    Robyn Stix, James Song, Anirban Banerjee, José D Faraldo-Gómez. DHHC20 Palmitoyl-Transferase Reshapes the Membrane to Foster Catalysis. Biophysical journal. 2020 Feb 25;118(4):980-988

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    PMID: 31858978

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