The polytopic plasma membrane protein Rim21 senses both the elevation of ambient pH and alterations in plasma membrane lipid asymmetry in the Rim101 pathway in budding yeast. Rim21 is known to undergo N-glycosylation, but the site and function of the glycosylation modification is not known. Using a systematic mutation analysis, we found that Rim21 is N-glycosylated at an unconventional motif located in the N-terminal extracellular region. The Rim21 mutant protein that failed to receive N-glycosylation showed prolonged protein lifetime compared to that of WT Rim21 protein. Although both the WT and mutant Rim21 localized to the plasma membrane, they exhibited different biochemical fractionation profiles. The mutant Rim21, but not WT Rim21, was mainly fractionated into the heavy membrane fraction. Further, compared to WT Rim21, mutant Rim21 was more easily solubilized with digitonin but was conversely more resistant to solubilization with Triton X-100. Despite these different biochemical properties from WT Rim21, mutant Rim21 protein could still activate the Rim101 pathway in response to external alkalization. Collectively, N-glycosylation of Rim21 is not indispensable for its activity as a sensor protein, but modulates the residence of Rim21 protein to some microdomains within the plasma membrane with distinct lipid conditions, thereby affecting its turnover.
Key words: plasma membrane, lipid asymmetry, N-linked glycosylation, microdomain, Saccharomyces cerevisiae