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The role of isoprenylation in membrane attachment of nuclear lamins. A single point mutation prevents proteolytic cleavage of the lamin A precursor and confers membrane binding properties
H. Hennekes, E.A. Nigg


Mature A- and B-type lamins differ in the extent to which they interact with the nuclear membrane and thus represent an interesting model for studying the role of isoprenylation and carboxyl-methylation in membrane attachment. Both A- and B-type lamins are isoprenylated and carboxyl-methylated shortly after synthesis, but A-type lamins undergo a further proteolytic cleavage which results in the loss of the hydrophobically modified C terminus. Here, we have constructed mutants of chicken lamin A that differ in their abilities to serve as substrates for different post-translational processing events occurring at the C terminus of the wild-type precursor. In addition to studying full-length proteins, we have analyzed C-terminal end domains of lamin A, either alone or after fusion to reporter proteins. Mutant proteins were expressed in mammalian cells, and their membrane association was analyzed by immunofluorescence microscopy and subcellular fractionation. Our results provide information on the substrate specificity and subcellular localization of the lamin-A-specific protease. Moreover, they indicate that hydrophobic modifications of the C-terminal end domains account for the differential membrane-binding properties of A- and B-type lamins. Thus, some of the integral membrane proteins implicated in anchoring B-type lamins to the membrane may function as receptors for the isoprenylated and carboxyl-methylated C terminus.