The post-translational modification of proteins with lipid moieties confers spatial and temporal control of protein function by restricting their subcellular distribution or movement in the extracellular milieu. Yet, little is known about the significance of lipid selectivity to the activity of proteins targeted for such modifications. Membrane bound O-acyl transferases (MBOATs) are a superfamily of multipass enzymes that transfer fatty acids on to lipid or protein substrates. Three MBOATs constitute a subfamily with secreted signalling molecules for substrates, the Wnt, Hedgehog (Hh) and Ghrelin proteins. Given their important roles in adult tissue homoeostasis, all three molecules and their respective associated acyltransferases provide a framework for interrogating the role of extracellular acylation events in cell-to-cell communication. Here, we discuss how the preference for a fatty acyl donor in the Wnt acyltransferase porcupine (Porcn) and possibly in other protein lipidation enzymes may provide a means for coupling metabolic health at the single cell level to communal cell fate decision-making in complex multicellular organisms.
- Intercellular signalling
- Lipid metabolism
- Membrane bound o-acyltransferases
- Protein fatty acylation
ASJC Scopus subject areas