Catherine F Latham

University of Queensland , Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Publications (11)46.65 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Munc18-1 and Syntaxin1 are essential proteins for SNARE-mediated neurotransmission. Munc18-1 participates in synaptic vesicle fusion via dual roles: as a docking/chaperone protein by binding closed Syntaxin1, and as a fusion protein that binds SNARE complexes in a Syntaxin1 N-peptide dependent manner. The two roles are associated with a closed-open Syntaxin1 conformational transition. Here, we show that Syntaxin N-peptide binding to Munc18-1 is not highly selective, suggesting that other parts of the SNARE complex are involved in binding to Munc18-1. We also find that Syntaxin1, with an N peptide and a physically anchored C terminus, binds to Munc18-1 and that this complex can participate in SNARE complex formation. We report a Munc18-1-N-peptide crystal structure that, together with other data, reveals how Munc18-1 might transit from a conformation that binds closed Syntaxin1 to one that may be compatible with binding open Syntaxin1 and SNARE complexes. Our results suggest the possibility that structural transitions occur in both Munc18-1 and Syntaxin1 during their binary interaction. We hypothesize that Munc18-1 domain 3a undergoes a conformational change that may allow coiled-coil interactions with SNARE complexes.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2011; 108(3):1040-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuronal communication relies on the fusion of neurotransmitter-containing vesicles with the plasma membrane. The soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive fusion protein attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins initiate membrane fusion through the formation of the SNARE complex, a process tightly regulated by Sec1/Munc18-1 (SM) proteins. The emerging trend is that SM proteins promote SNARE-mediated membrane fusion by binding to a Syntaxin N-terminal motif. Here we report that mutations in the hydrophobic pocket of Munc18-1 (F115E and E132A), predicted to disrupt the N-terminal Sx1a interaction have a modest effect on binding to Sx1a in its free state, but abolish binding to the SNARE complex. Overexpression of the Munc18-1 mutant in PC12 cells lacking Munc18-1 rescues both neuroexocytosis and the plasma membrane localization of Syntaxin. However, total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy analysis reveals that expression of a Munc18-1 double mutant reduces the rate of vesicle fusion, an effect only detectable at the onset of stimulation. The Munc18-1 hydrophobic pocket is therefore critical for SNARE complex binding. However, mutations abrogating this interaction have a limited impact on Ca(2+)-dependent exocytosis in PC12 cells.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2009; 284(32):21637-46. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The production of diffraction-quality crystals of Munc18c, a protein involved in regulating vesicular exocytosis in mammals, is reported. The diffraction resolution of Munc18c crystals was optimized by (i) cocrystallizing with a peptide fragment of the Munc18c functional binding partner syntaxin4, (ii) using nanolitre free-interface diffusion crystallization-screening chips and microlitre hanging-drop vapour diffusion and (iii) applying a post-crystallization dehydration treatment. Crystals belonging to the cubic space group P2(1)3, with unit-cell parameters a = b = c = 170.8 A, alpha = beta = gamma = 90 degrees , were generated that diffract to 3.7 A resolution on a laboratory X-ray source.
    Acta Crystallographica Section F Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications 07/2007; 63(Pt 6):524-8. · 0.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The botulinum neurotoxins are the most dangerous toxins known (BoNTs serotypes A-G) and induce profound flaccid neuromuscular paralysis by blocking nerve-muscle communication. Poisoned motoneurons react by emitting a sprouting network known to establish novel functional synapses with the abutting muscle fiber. Understanding how our motoneurons are capable of bypassing such transmission blockade, thereby overcoming paralysis, by an astonishing display of plasticity is one of the research goals that have numerous therapeutic ramifications. This Mini-Review aims at giving a brief update on the recent discoveries regarding the molecular mechanism of botulinum toxins intoxication. Curing botulism still is a challenge once the toxin has found his way inside motoneurons. In view of the potential use of botulinum toxins as biological weapon, more research is needed to find efficient ways of curing this disease.
    Journal of Neuroscience Research 06/2007; 85(6):1149-58. · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sec1/Munc18 proteins (SM proteins) bind to soluble NSF attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) and play an essential role in membrane fusion. Divergent modes of regulation have been proposed for different SM proteins indicating that they can either promote or inhibit SNARE assembly. This is in part because of discrete modes of binding that have been described for various SM/SNARE complexes. One mode suggests that SM proteins bind only to Syntaxins (Stx) preventing SNARE assembly, whereas in another they facilitate SNARE assembly and bind to SNARE complexes. The mammalian cell surface SM protein Munc18c binds to an N-peptide in Stx4, and this is compatible with its interaction with SNARE complexes. Here we describe the crystal structure of Munc18c in complex with the Stx4 N-peptide. This structure shows remarkable similarity with a yeast complex indicating that the mode of binding, which can accommodate SNARE complexes, is highly conserved throughout evolution. Modeling reveals the presence of the N-peptide binding mode in most but not all yeast and mammalian SM/Stx pairs, suggesting that it has coevolved to fulfill a specific regulatory function. It is unlikely that the N-peptide interaction alone accounts for the specificity in SM/SNARE binding, implicating other contact surfaces in this function. Together with other data, our results support a sequential two-state model for SM/SNARE binding involving an initial interaction via the Stx N-peptide, which somehow facilitates a second, more comprehensive interaction comprising other contact surfaces in both proteins.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2007; 104(21):8773-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuronal communication relies on the fusion of neurotransmitter-containing vesicles with the neuronal plasma membrane. Recent genetic studies have highlighted the critical role played by polyunsaturated fatty acids in neurotransmission, however, there is little information available about which fatty acids act on exocytosis and, more importantly, by what mechanism. We have used permeabilized chromaffin cells to screen various fatty acids of the n-3 and n-6 series for their acute effects on exocytosis. We have demonstrated that an n-6 series polyunsaturated fatty acid, arachidonic acid, potentiates secretion from intact neurosecretory cells regardless of the secretagogue used. We have shown that arachidonic acid dose dependently increases soluble NSF attachment protein receptor complex formation in chromaffin cells and bovine cortical brain extracts and that a non-hydrolysable analogue of arachidonic acid causes a similar increase in SNARE complex formation. This prompted us to examine the effect of arachidonic acid on SNARE protein interactions with Munc18a, a protein known to prevent Syntaxin1a engagement into the SNARE complex in vitro. In the presence of arachidonic acid, we show that Munc18a can interact with the neuronal SNARE complex in a dose-dependent manner. We further demonstrate that arachidonic acid directly interacts with Syntaxin1a.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 04/2007; 100(6):1543-54. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    Catherine F Latham, Frederic A Meunier
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    ABSTRACT: The precise sequence of molecular events underlying release of neurotransmitter in neurons is yet to be fully understood. This process, called exocytosis, is tightly controlled by a number of protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions. One such regulatory factor is Munc18a, a cytosolic protein characterized by its interaction with the molecular machinery of exocytosis, primarily with the target SNARE protein, syntaxin1a. While Munc18a interactions have been extensively investigated for more than a decade, the role of Munc18a in vesicular fusion is still not fully defined. In this review, we discuss: (i) the recent analysis of the role of Munc18a in tethering and docking, (ii) the known structural and (iii) functional data surrounding Munc18a interactions with numerous other proteins of the exocytic machinery. Integration of Munc18a regulation by phosphorylation and lipids and the apparent complexity of its pleiotropic functional interactions is critical to deciphering Munc18a's role in exocytosis.
    The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 02/2007; 39(9):1576-81. · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sec1p/Munc18 (SM) proteins are believed to play an integral role in vesicle transport through their interaction with SNAREs. Different SM proteins have been shown to interact with SNAREs via different mechanisms, leading to the conclusion that their function has diverged. To further explore this notion, in this study, we have examined the molecular interactions between Munc18c and its cognate SNAREs as these molecules are ubiquitously expressed in mammals and likely regulate a universal plasma membrane trafficking step. Thus, Munc18c binds to monomeric syntaxin4 and the N-terminal 29 amino acids of syntaxin4 are necessary for this interaction. We identified key residues in Munc18c and syntaxin4 that determine the N-terminal interaction and that are consistent with the N-terminal binding mode of yeast proteins Sly1p and Sed5p. In addition, Munc18c binds to the syntaxin4/SNAP23/VAMP2 SNARE complex. Pre-assembly of the syntaxin4/Munc18c dimer accelerates the formation of SNARE complex compared to assembly with syntaxin4 alone. These data suggest that Munc18c interacts with its cognate SNAREs in a manner that resembles the yeast proteins Sly1p and Sed5p rather than the mammalian neuronal proteins Munc18a and syntaxin1a. The Munc18c-SNARE interactions described here imply that Munc18c could play a positive regulatory role in SNARE assembly.
    Traffic 11/2006; 7(10):1408-19. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Two protein families that are critical for vesicle transport are the Syntaxin and Munc18/Sec1 families of proteins. These two molecules form a high affinity complex and play an essential role in vesicle docking and fusion. Munc18c was expressed as an N-terminally His-tagged fusion protein from recombinant baculovirus in Sf9 insect cells. His-tagged Munc18c was purified to homogeneity using both cobalt-chelating affinity chromatography and gel filtration chromatography. With this simple two-step protocol, 3.5 mg of purified Munc18c was obtained from a 1L culture. Further, the N-terminal His-tag could be removed by thrombin cleavage while the tagged protein was bound to metal affinity resin. Recombinant Munc18c produced in this way is functional, in that it forms a stable complex with the SNARE interacting partner, syntaxin4. Thus we have developed a method for producing and purifying large amounts of functional Munc18c--both tagged and detagged--from a baculovirus expression system. We have also developed a method to purify the Munc18c:syntaxin4 complex. These methods will be employed for future functional and structural studies.
    Protein Expression and Purification 11/2003; 31(2):305-10. · 1.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sulfonation catalyzed by sulfotransferase enzymes plays an important role in chemical defense mechanisms against various xenobiotics but also bioactivates carcinogens. A major human sulfotransferase, SULT1A1, metabolizes and/or bioactivates many endogenous compounds and is implicated in a range of cancers because of its ability to modify diverse promutagen and procarcinogen xenobiotics. The crystal structure of human SULT1A1 reported here is the first sulfotransferase structure complexed with a xenobiotic substrate. An unexpected finding is that the enzyme accommodates not one but two molecules of the xenobiotic model substrate p-nitrophenol in the active site. This result is supported by kinetic data for SULT1A1 that show substrate inhibition for this small xenobiotic. The extended active site of SULT1A1 is consistent with binding of diiodothyronine but cannot easily accommodate beta-estradiol, although both are known substrates. This observation, together with evidence for a disorder-order transition in SULT1A1, suggests that the active site is flexible and can adapt its architecture to accept diverse hydrophobic substrates with varying sizes, shapes and flexibility. Thus the crystal structure of SULT1A1 provides the molecular basis for substrate inhibition and reveals the first clues as to how the enzyme sulfonates a wide variety of lipophilic compounds.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2003; 278(9):7655-62. · 4.65 Impact Factor