Conformational regulation of SNARE assembly and disassembly in vivo

Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA.
Journal of Biological Chemistry (Impact Factor: 4.6). 04/2002; 277(11):9375-81. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111729200
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT SNAP receptor (SNARE) proteins function in intracellular trafficking by forming complexes that bridge vesicle and target membranes prior to fusion. Biochemical studies indicate that the entry of certain SNARE proteins into complexes is inhibited by intramolecular interactions that generate a closed conformation. For example, an essential N-terminal regulatory domain of the yeast plasma membrane SNARE Sso1p sequesters the C-terminal SNARE motif and prevents it from binding to its assembly partners Sec9p and Sncp. Here, we introduce mutations into Sso1p that cause it to remain constitutively open. These open mutants can functionally substitute for wild-type Sso1p protein in vivo, demonstrating that inhibition of SNARE assembly is not the essential function of the N-terminal regulatory domain. Furthermore, the open mutants suppress sec9--4, a mutation that causes a severe defect in SNARE assembly. Elevated levels of SNARE complexes are observed in cells expressing the open mutants. In the presence of sufficient Sec9p, these complexes accumulate to levels that cause severe growth defects. Similarly, overexpression of the open mutants in yeast carrying mutations in the SNARE disassembly machinery impairs growth. Our findings indicate that elevated levels of SNARE complexes can be toxic and that these levels are normally controlled by the SNARE disassembly machinery, by the limited availability of Sec9p, and by the closed conformation of Sso1p.

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    ABSTRACT: SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) proteins mediate fusion by pulling biological membranes together via a zippering mechanism. Recent biophysical studies have shown that t- and v-SNAREs can assemble in multiple stages from the N-termini toward the C-termini. Here we show that functionally, membrane fusion requires a sequential, two-step folding pathway and assign specific and distinct functions for each step. First, the N-terminal domain (NTD) of the v-SNARE docks to the t-SNARE, which leads to a conformational rearrangement into an activated half-zippered SNARE complex. This partially assembled SNARE complex locks the C-terminal (CTD) portion of the t-SNARE into the same structure as in the postfusion 4-helix bundle, thereby creating the binding site for the CTD of the v-SNARE and enabling fusion. Then zippering of the remaining CTD, the membrane-proximal linker (LD), and transmembrane (TMD) domains is required and sufficient to trigger fusion. This intrinsic property of the SNAREs fits well with the action of physiologically vital regulators such as complexin. We also report that NTD assembly is the rate-limiting step. Our findings provide a refined framework for delineating the molecular mechanism of SNARE-mediated membrane fusion and action of regulatory proteins.
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    ABSTRACT: The SNARE superfamily has become, since its discovery approximately a decade ago, the most intensively studied element of the protein machinery involved in intracellular trafficking. Intracellular membrane fusion in eukaryotes requires SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive-factor attachment protein receptor) proteins that form complexes bridging the two membranes. Although common themes have emerged from structural and functional studies of SNAREs and other components of the eukaryotic membrane fusion machinery, there is still much to learn about how the assembly and activity of this machinery is choreographed in living cells.
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    ABSTRACT: Trafficking of protein and lipid cargo through the secretory pathway in eukaryotic cells is mediated by membrane-bound vesicles. Secretory vesicles are targeted to sites of exocytosis on the plasma membrane in part by a conserved multi-subunit protein complex termed the exocyst. In addition to tethering vesicles to the plasma membrane, the exocyst complex and components therein may also add a layer of regulation by directly controlling assembly of the SNARE complex, which is required for membrane fusion, as well as other regulatory factors such as Sec1p. In the past, we have shown that Sec6p interacts with Sec9p in vivo and that that interaction retards binary SNARE complex formation in a SNARE assembly assay. Though many interactions have been mapped using in vitro methods, confirming them in vivo and placing them into the context of a complete model that accounts for all observed interactions (and lack of interactions) has proven difficult. In order to address these problems, I have studied the interactions between Sec6p and other factors involved in exocytosis at the plasma membrane via in vivo methods. My hypothesis was that Sec6p interaction with Sec9p and subsequent inhibition of SNARE complex assembly in vitro was an intermediate state and Sec6p was part of a set of cofactors that accelerated SNARE complex assembly in vivo. To test this hypothesis I showed that the interaction between the plasma membrane t-SNARE Sec9p and the yeast exocyst subunit Sec6p can be observed in vivo and designed point mutations to disrupt that interaction. Interestingly, I also showed that Sec6p:Sec9p interaction involves the free pool of Sec6p rather than the exocyst bound fraction of Sec6p. Point mutations in the N-terminal domain of Sec6p result in temperature sensitive growth and secretion defects, without loss of Sec6p-Sec9p interaction. However, at the non-permissive temperature, the exocyst subunits Sec5p, Sec10p and Sec15p are mislocalized and are absent from the exocyst complex. The resulting subcomplex, containing Sec3p, Sec8p, Exo70p and Exo84p, remains stably assembled and localized at sites of polarized secretion. This subcomplex is likely due to disruption of interaction between Sec6p and Sec5p, and may be similar to that observed at restrictive temperatures in the sec6-54 temperature sensitive mutant. Additionally, one of the sec6 temperature sensitive mutants displays a loss of binding to the yeast regulatory protein Sec1p. In vitro binding studies indicate a direct interaction between Sec1p and the free pool of the wild-type Sec6p protein, suggesting close interplay between Sec6p and Sec1p in the regulation of SNARE complexes. A coherent model which incorporates all these interactions has continued to be elusive. However, the results I have found do suggest several hypotheses which should prove testable in the future.