Many signaling, cytoskeletal, and transport proteins have to be localized to the plasma membrane (PM) in order to carry out their function. We surveyed PM-targeting mechanisms by imaging the subcellular localization of 125 fluorescent protein-conjugated Ras, Rab, Arf, and Rho proteins. Out of 48 proteins that were PM-localized, 37 contained clusters of positively charged amino acids. To test whether these polybasic clusters bind negatively charged phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P2] lipids, we developed a chemical phosphatase activation method to deplete PM PI(4,5)P 2. Unexpectedly, proteins with polybasic clusters dissociated from the PM only when both PI(4,5)P2 and phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate [PI(3,4,5)P3] were depleted, arguing that both lipid second messengers jointly regulate PM targeting.
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