Acyl-PEGyl Exchange Gel Shift Assay for Quantitative Determination of Palmitoylation of Brain Membrane Proteins

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Activity-dependent alterations in the levels of synaptic AMPA receptors (AMPARs) within the postsynaptic density (PSD) is thought to represent a cellular mechanism for learning and memory. Palmitoylation regulates localization and function of many synaptic proteins including AMPA-Rs, auxiliary factors and synaptic scaffolds in an activity-dependent manner. We identified the synapse differentiation induced gene (SynDIG) family of four genes (SynDIG1-4) encoding brain-specific transmembrane proteins that associate with AMPARs and regulate synapse strength. SynDIG1 is palmitoylated at two cysteine residues located at positions 191 and 192 in the juxta-transmembrane region important for activity-dependent excitatory synapse development. Here, we describe an innovative biochemical approach, the acyl-PEGyl exchange gel shift (APEGS) assay, to investigate the palmitoylation state of any protein of interest and demonstrate its utility with the SynDIG family of proteins in mouse brain lysates.