B/K protein belongs to a family of C-terminal-type (C-type) tandem C2 proteins that contain two C2 Ca2+-binding motifs at the C-terminus. Although other C-type tandem C2 proteins have been found to have a unique N-terminal domain that is involved in membrane anchoring (e.g. synaptotagmin) or specific ligand binding (e.g. rabphilin-3A and Doc2), no research has been conducted on the function of the N-terminal domain of B/K protein. In this study we showed that despite lacking a transmembrane domain, both native and recombinant B/K proteins are tightly bound to the membrane fraction, which was completely resistant to 0.1M Na2CO3, pH11, or 1M NaCl treatment. Deletion and mutation analyses indicated that the cysteine cluster at the N-terminal domain (consisting of seven cysteine residues, Cys-19, Cys-23, Cys-26, Cys-27, Cys-30, Cys-35 and Cys-36) is essential for the membrane localization of B/K protein. When wild-type B/K was expressed in PC12 cells, B/K proteins were localized mainly in the perinuclear region (trans-Golgi network), whereas mutant B/K proteins carrying Cys-to-Ala substitutions were present in the cytosol. Based on our findings, we propose that the N-terminal domain of B/K protein contains a novel cysteine-based protein motif that may allow B/K protein to localize in the trans-Golgi network.

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