Caveolin-1 is a palmitoylated protein involved in the formation of plasma membrane subdomains termed caveolae, intracellular cholesterol transport, and assembly and regulation of signaling molecules in caveolae. Caveolin-1 interacts via a consensus binding motif with several signaling proteins, including H-Ras. Ras oncogene products function as molecular switches in several signal transduction pathways regulating cell growth and differentiation. Post-translational modifications, including palmitoylation, are critical for the membrane targeting and function of H-Ras. Subcellular localization regulates the signaling pathways engaged by H-Ras activation. We show here that H-Ras is localized at the plasma membrane in caveolin-1-expressing cells but not in caveolin-1-deficient cells. Since palmitoylation is required for trafficking of H-Ras from the endomembrane system to the plasma membrane, we tested whether the altered localization of H-Ras in caveolin-1-null cells is due to decreased H-Ras palmitoylation. Although the palmitoylation profiles of cultured embryo fibroblasts isolated from wild type and caveolin-1 gene-disrupted mice differed, suggesting that caveolin-1, or caveolae, play a role in the palmitate incorporation of a subset of palmitoylated proteins, the palmitoylation of H-Ras was not decreased in caveolin-1-null cells. We conclude that the altered localization of H-Ras in caveolin-1-deficient cells is palmitoylation-independent. This article shows two important new mechanisms by which loss of caveolin-1 expression may perturb intracellular signaling, namely the mislocalization of signaling proteins and alterations in protein palmitoylation.
- Post translational modification
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology