Palmitoylation of Claudin-5 Proteins Influences Their Lipid Domain Affinity and Tight Junction Assembly at the Blood-Brain Barrier Interface

Nandhini Rajagopal, Flaviyan Jerome Irudayanathan, Shikha Nangia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Post-translational lipid modification of integral membrane proteins is recognized as a key mechanism to modulate protein-protein and membrane-protein associations. Despite numerous reports of lipid-modified proteins, molecular-level understanding of the influence of lipid-modification of key membrane proteins remains elusive. This study focuses on the lipid modification of one such protein - claudin-5, a critical component of the blood-brain barrier tight junctions. Claudin-5 proteins are responsible for regulating the size and charge-selective permeability at the blood-brain interface. Palmitoylation of the claudin family of proteins is implicated in influencing the tight junction permeability in prior experimental studies. Here, we investigate the impact of palmitoylation on claudin-5 self-assembly using multiscale molecular simulations. To elucidate protein-membrane interactions, we used three model membrane compositions (endoplasmic reticulum, cholesterol-enriched endoplasmic reticulum, and plasma membrane) that mimic the complexity of cell organelles encountered by a typical membrane protein in its secretion pathway. The results show that palmitoylation enhances protein's affinity for cholesterol-rich domains in a membrane, and it can elicit a site-specific response based on the location of the palmitoyl chain on the protein. Also, in claudin-5 self-assembly, palmitoylation restricts specific protein-protein conformations. Overall, this study demonstrates the significance of post-translational lipid modification of proteins in cellular and subcellular membranes, and the impact palmitoylation can have on critical cellular functions of the protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-993
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 7 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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