Rho GTPases are master regulators of cell polarity. For their function, Rhos must associate with discrete plasma membrane domains. Rho of Plants (ROPs) or RACs comprise a single family. Prenylation and S-acylation of hypervariable domain cysteines of Ras and Rho GTPases are required for their function; however, lipid modifications in the G domain have never been reported. Reversible S-acylation involves the attachment of palmitate (C16:0) or other saturated lipids to cysteines through a thioester linkage and was implicated in the regulation of signaling. Here we show that transient S-acylation of Arabidopsis AtROP6 takes place on two conserved G domain cysteine residues, C21 and C156. C21 is relatively exposed and is accessible for modification, but C156 is not, implying that its S-acylation involves a conformational change. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching beam-size analysis shows that S-acylation of AtROP6 regulates its membrane-association dynamics, and detergent-solubilization studies indicate that it regulates AtROP6 association with lipid rafts. Site-specific acylation-deficient AtROP6 mutants can bind and hydrolyze GTP but display compromised effects on polar cell growth, endocytic uptake of the tracer dye FM4-64, and distribution of reactive oxygen species. These data reveal an S-acylation switch that regulates Rho signaling.
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