Identification of substrates of palmitoyl protein thioesterase 1 highlights roles of depalmitoylation in disulfide bond formation and synaptic function

PLoS Biol. 2022 Mar 31;20(3):e3001590. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001590. eCollection 2022 Mar.


Loss-of-function mutations in the depalmitoylating enzyme palmitoyl protein thioesterase 1 (PPT1) cause neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), a devastating neurodegenerative disease. The substrates of PPT1 are largely undescribed, posing a limitation on molecular dissection of disease mechanisms and therapeutic development. Here, we provide a resource identifying >100 novel PPT1 substrates. We utilized Acyl Resin-Assisted Capture (Acyl RAC) and mass spectrometry to identify proteins with increased in vivo palmitoylation in PPT1 knockout (KO) mouse brains. We then validated putative substrates through direct depalmitoylation with recombinant PPT1. This stringent screen elucidated diverse PPT1 substrates at the synapse, including channels and transporters, G-protein-associated molecules, endo/exocytic components, synaptic adhesion molecules, and mitochondrial proteins. Cysteine depalmitoylation sites in transmembrane PPT1 substrates frequently participate in disulfide bonds in the mature protein. We confirmed that depalmitoylation plays a role in disulfide bond formation in a tertiary screen analyzing posttranslational modifications (PTMs). Collectively, these data highlight the role of PPT1 in mediating synapse functions, implicate molecular pathways in the etiology of NCL and other neurodegenerative diseases, and advance our basic understanding of the purpose of depalmitoylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disulfides / metabolism
  • Lipoylation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses* / genetics
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses* / metabolism
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Disulfides