AbstractBackgroundVirtually all cell types have the capacity to secrete nanometer-sized extracellular vesicles, which have emerged in recent years as potent signal transducers and cell-cell communicators. The multifunctional protein Alix is a bona fide exosomal regulator and skeletal muscle cells can release Alix-positive nano-sized extracellular vesicles, offering a new paradigm for understanding how myofibers communicate within skeletal muscle and with other organs. S-palmitoylation is a reversible lipid post-translational modification, involved in different biological processes, such as the trafficking of membrane proteins, achievement of stable protein conformations, and stabilization of protein interactions.MethodsHere, we have used an integrated biochemical-biophysical approach to determine whether S-palmitoylation contributes to the regulation of extracellular vesicle production in skeletal muscle cells.ResultsWe ascertained that Alix is S-palmitoylated and that this post-translational modification influences its protein-protein interaction with CD9, a member of the tetraspanin protein family. Furthermore, we showed that the structural organization of the lipid bilayer of the small (nano-sized) extracellular vesicle membrane with altered palmitoylation is qualitatively different compared to mock control vesicles.ConclusionsWe propose that S-palmitoylation regulates the function of Alix in facilitating the interactions among extracellular vesicle-specific regulators and maintains the proper structural organization of exosome-like extracellular vesicle membranes.General SignificanceBeyond its biological relevance, our study also provides the means for a comprehensive structural characterization of EVs.
- Molecular Biology