Ara6 of Arabidopsis thaliana is a novel member of the Rab/Ypt GTPase family with unique structural features. It resembles Rab5 GTPases best, but lacks a large part of the C-terminal hypervariable region and the cysteine motif, and instead harbors an extra stretch of amino acid residues containing myristoylation and palmitoylation sites at the N-terminus. Ara6 is tightly associated with membranes and is expressed constitutively. In contrast, the conventional Rab5 ortholog, Ara7, is highly expressed only in actively dividing cells. Examination of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged proteins indicates that both Ara6 and Ara7 are distributed on a subpopulation of endosomes and suggests their roles in endosomal fusion. The endosomal localization of Ara6 requires N-terminal fatty acylation, nucleotide binding and the C-terminal amino acid sequence coordinately. Proteins similar to Ara6 are found only in higher plants and thus represent a novel class of Rab GTPases regulating endocytic function in a plant- specific manner
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