The role of dynamic palmitoylation in Ca2+ channel inactivation

Joyce H. Hurley, Anne L. Cahill, Kevin P.M. Currie, Aaron P. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


N- and P/Q-type Ca2+ channels regulate a number of critical physiological processes including synaptic transmission and hormone secretion. These Ca2+ channels are multisubunit proteins, consisting of a pore-forming α1, and accessory β and α2δ subunits each encoded by multiple genes and splice variants. β subunits alter current amplitude and kinetics. The β2a subunit is associated with slowed inactivation, an effect that requires the palmitoylation of two N-terminal cysteine residues in β2a. In the current manuscript, we studied steady state inactivation properties of native N-and P/Q-type Ca2+ channels and recombinant N-type Ca2+ channels. When bovine α1B and β2a and human α2β were coexpressed in tsA 201 cells, we observed significant variations in inactivation; some cells exhibited virtually no inactivation as the holding potential was altered whereas others exhibited significant inactivation. A similar variability in inactivation was observed in native channels from bovine chromaffin cells. In individual chromaffin cells, the amount of inactivation exhibited by N-type channels was correlated with the inactivation of P/Q-type channels, suggesting a shared mechanism. Our results with recombinant channels with known β subunit composition indicated that inactivation could be dynamically regulated, possibly by alterations in β subunit palmitoylation. Tunicamycin, which inhibits palmitoylation, increased steady-state inactivation of Ca2+ channels in chromaffin cells. Cerulenin, another drug that inhibits palmitoylation, also increased inactivation. Tunicamycin produced a similar effect on recombinant N-type Ca2+ channels containing β2a but not β2b or β2a subunits mutated to be palmitoylation deficient. Our results suggest that Ca2+ channels containing β2a subunits may be regulated by dynamic palmitoylation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9293-9298
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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