Arfs are a family of Ras-related GTP-binding proteins that function in the regulation of membrane trafficking and structure. The six mammalian Arf proteins are expressed ubiquitously and so it is anticipated that each will have a distinct localization and function within the cell. It has been assumed that much of this specificity will be defined by determining which regulators of Arfs, the GEFs (guanine nucleotide-exchange factors) and GAPs (GTPase-activating proteins) function with which Arf proteins. Although in vitro assays may indicate Arf preferences for the numerous Arf GEFs and GAPs that have been identified, in the cell the different Arfs, GEFs and GAPs are targeted to specific compartments where they carry out their functions. We have embarked on studies to define regions of the Arf1 and Arf6 proteins that determine their sites of action and specific activities at the Golgi and plasma membrane respectively. Chimaeras were made between Arf1 and Arf6 in order to identify regions of the protein that contributed to targeting and function. Whereas Arf6 is targeted to the plasma membrane through multiple regions along the protein, we have found a Golgi-targeting region in Arf1 that is sufficient to target Arf6 to the Golgi complex.

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