The exocyst is recruited to secretory vesicles by the combinatorial signals of Sec4-GTP and the Snc proteins to confer both specificity and directionality to vesicular traffic.
A screen for mutations that affect the recruitment of the exocyst to secretory vesicles identified genes encoding clathrin and proteins that associate or colocalize with clathrin at sites of endocytosis. However, no significant colocalization of the exocyst with clathrin was seen, arguing against a direct role in exocyst recruitment. Rather, these components are needed to recycle the exocytic vesicle SNAREs Snc1p and Snc2p from the plasma membrane into new secretory vesicles where they act to recruit the exocyst. We observe a direct interaction between the exocyst subunit Sec6p and the latter half of the SNARE motif of Snc2p. An snc2 mutation that specifically disrupts this interaction led to exocyst mislocalization and a block in exocytosis in vivo without affecting liposome fusion in vitro. Overexpression of Sec4p partially suppressed the exocyst localization defects of mutations in clathrin and clathrin-associated components. We propose that the exocyst is recruited to secretory vesicles by the combinatorial signals of Sec4-GTP and the Snc proteins. This could help to confer both specificity and directionality to vesicular traffic.
The exocyst is an octameric protein complex implicated in tethering post-Golgi secretory vesicles at the plasma membrane in preparation for fusion. However, it is not clear how the exocyst is targeted to and physically associates with specific domains of the plasma membrane and how its functions are regulated at those regions. We demonstrate that the N terminus of the exocyst component Sec3 directly interacts with phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate. In addition, we have identified key residues in Sec3 that are critical for its binding to the guanosine triphosphate–bound form of Cdc42. Genetic analyses indicate that the dual interactions of Sec3 with phospholipids and Cdc42 control its function in yeast cells. Disrupting these interactions not only blocks exocytosis and affects exocyst polarization but also leads to defects in cell morphogenesis. We propose that the interactions of Sec3 with phospholipids and Cdc42 play important roles in exocytosis and polarized cell growth.
Sec3p is a component of the exocyst complex that tethers secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane at exocytic sites in preparation for fusion. Unlike all other exocyst structural genes, SEC3 is not essential for growth. Cells lacking Sec3p grow and secrete surprisingly well at 25°C; however, late markers of secretion, such as the vesicle marker Sec4p and the exocyst subunit Sec8p, localize more diffusely within the bud. Furthermore, sec3Δ cells are strikingly round relative to wild-type cells and are unable to form pointed mating projections in response to α factor. These phenotypes support the proposed role of Sec3p as a spatial landmark for secretion. We also find that cells lacking Sec3p exhibit a dramatic defect in the inheritance of cortical ER into the bud, whereas the inheritance of mitochondria and Golgi is unaffected. Overexpression of Sec3p results in a prominent patch of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) marker Sec61p-GFP at the bud tip. Cortical ER inheritance in yeast has been suggested to involve the capture of ER tubules at the bud tip. Sec3p may act in this process as a spatial landmark for cortical ER inheritance.
The exocyst complex is essential for many exocytic events, by tethering vesicles at the plasma membrane for fusion. In fission yeast, polarized exocytosis for growth relies on the combined action of the exocyst at cell poles and myosin-driven transport along actin cables. We report here the identification of fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe Sec3 protein, which we identified through sequence homology of its PH-like domain. Like other exocyst subunits, sec3 is required for secretion and cell division. Cells deleted for sec3 are only conditionally lethal and can proliferate when osmotically stabilized. Sec3 is redundant with Exo70 for viability and for the localization of other exocyst subunits, suggesting these components act as exocyst tethers at the plasma membrane. Consistently, Sec3 localizes to zones of growth independently of other exocyst subunits but depends on PIP2 and functional Cdc42. FRAP analysis shows that Sec3, like all other exocyst subunits, localizes to cell poles largely independently of the actin cytoskeleton. However, we show that Sec3, Exo70 and Sec5 are transported by the myosin V Myo52 along actin cables. These data suggest that the exocyst holocomplex, including Sec3 and Exo70, is present on exocytic vesicles, which can reach cell poles by either myosin-driven transport or random walk.
Activation of the rab GTPase, Sec4p, by its exchange factor, Sec2p, is needed for polarized transport of secretory vesicles to exocytic sites and for exocytosis. A small region in the C-terminal half of Sec2p regulates its localization. Loss of this region results in temperature-sensitive growth and the depolarized accumulation of secretory vesicles. Here, we show that Sec2p associates with the exocyst, an octameric effector of Sec4p involved in tethering secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane. Specifically, the exocyst subunit Sec15p directly interacts with Sec2p. This interaction normally occurs on secretory vesicles and serves to couple nucleotide exchange on Sec4p to the recruitment of the Sec4p effector. The mislocalization of Sec2p mutants correlates with dramatically enhanced binding to the exocyst complex. We propose that Sec2p is normally released from the exocyst after vesicle tethering so that it can recycle onto a new round of vesicles. The mislocalization of Sec2p mutants results from a failure to be released from Sec15p, blocking this recycling pathway.
The Sec6 subunit of the multisubunit exocyst tethering complex interacts with the Sec1/Munc18 protein Sec1 and with the t-SNARE Sec9. Assembly of the exocyst upon vesicle arrival at sites of secretion is proposed to release Sec9 for SNARE complex assembly and to recruit Sec1 for interaction with SNARE complexes to facilitate fusion.
Trafficking of protein and lipid cargo through the secretory pathway in eukaryotic cells is mediated by membrane-bound vesicles. Secretory vesicle targeting and fusion require a conserved multisubunit protein complex termed the exocyst, which has been implicated in specific tethering of vesicles to sites of polarized exocytosis. The exocyst is directly involved in regulating soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor (NSF) attachment protein receptor (SNARE) complexes and membrane fusion through interactions between the Sec6 subunit and the plasma membrane SNARE protein Sec9. Here we show another facet of Sec6 function—it directly binds Sec1, another SNARE regulator, but of the Sec1/Munc18 family. The Sec6–Sec1 interaction is exclusive of Sec6–Sec9 but compatible with Sec6–exocyst assembly. In contrast, the Sec6–exocyst interaction is incompatible with Sec6–Sec9. Therefore, upon vesicle arrival, Sec6 is proposed to release Sec9 in favor of Sec6–exocyst assembly and to simultaneously recruit Sec1 to sites of secretion for coordinated SNARE complex formation and membrane fusion.
The exocyst complex tethers post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane prior to docking and fusion. In this study, we identify Sec3, the missing component of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe exocyst complex (SpSec3). SpSec3 shares many properties with its orthologs, and its mutants are rescued by human Sec3/EXOC1. Although involved in exocytosis, SpSec3 does not appear to mark the site of exocyst complex assembly at the plasma membrane. It does, however, mark the sites of actin cytoskeleton recruitment and controls the organization of all three yeast actin structures: the actin cables, endocytic actin patches and actomyosin ring. Specifically, SpSec3 physically interacts with For3 and sec3 mutants have no actin cables as a result of a failure to polarize this nucleating formin. SpSec3 also interacts with actin patch components and sec3 mutants have depolarized actin patches of reduced endocytic capacity. Finally, the constriction and disassembly of the cytokinetic actomyosin ring is compromised in these sec3 mutant cells. We propose that a role of SpSec3 is to spatially couple actin machineries and their independently polarized regulators. As a consequence of its dual role in secretion and actin organization, Sec3 appears as a major co-ordinator of cell morphology in fission yeast.
actin; endocytosis; exocyst; morphology; Schizosaccharomyces pombe
Polarized exocytosis plays a major role in development and cell differentiation but the mechanisms that target exocytosis to specific membrane domains in animal cells are still poorly understood. We characterized Drosophila Sec6, a component of the exocyst complex that is believed to tether secretory vesicles to specific plasma membrane sites. sec6 mutations cause cell lethality and disrupt plasma membrane growth. In developing photoreceptor cells (PRCs), Sec6 but not Sec5 or Sec8 shows accumulation at adherens junctions. In late PRCs, Sec6, Sec5, and Sec8 colocalize at the rhabdomere, the light sensing subdomain of the apical membrane. PRCs with reduced Sec6 function accumulate secretory vesicles and fail to transport proteins to the rhabdomere, but show normal localization of proteins to the apical stalk membrane and the basolateral membrane. Furthermore, we show that Rab11 forms a complex with Sec5 and that Sec5 interacts with Sec6 suggesting that the exocyst is a Rab11 effector that facilitates protein transport to the apical rhabdomere in Drosophila PRCs.
The exocyst is an essential protein complex required for targeting and fusion of secretory vesicles to sites of exocytosis at the plasma membrane. To study the function of the exocyst complex, we performed a structure-based mutational analysis of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae exocyst subunit Sec6p. Two “patches” of highly conserved residues are present on the surface of Sec6p; mutation of either patch does not compromise protein stability. Nevertheless, replacement of SEC6 with the patch mutants results in severe temperature-sensitive growth and secretion defects. At nonpermissive conditions, although trafficking of secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane is unimpaired, none of the exocyst subunits are polarized. This is consistent with data from other exocyst temperature-sensitive mutants, which disrupt the integrity of the complex. Surprisingly, however, these patch mutations result in mislocalized exocyst complexes that remain intact. Our results indicate that assembly and polarization of the exocyst are functionally separable events, and that Sec6p is required to anchor exocyst complexes at sites of secretion.
The exocyst complex localizes to distinct foci at the plasma membrane of Arabidopsis thaliana cells. Their localization at the plasma membrane is insensitive to BFA treatment but is decreased in an exocyst-subunit mutant. In turn, exocyst-subunit mutants show decreased exocytosis.
The exocyst complex, an effector of Rho and Rab GTPases, is believed to function as an exocytotic vesicle tether at the plasma membrane before soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) complex formation. Exocyst subunits localize to secretory-active regions of the plasma membrane, exemplified by the outer domain of Arabidopsis root epidermal cells. Using variable-angle epifluorescence microscopy, we visualized the dynamics of exocyst subunits at this domain. The subunits colocalized in defined foci at the plasma membrane, distinct from endocytic sites. Exocyst foci were independent of cytoskeleton, although prolonged actin disruption led to changes in exocyst localization. Exocyst foci partially overlapped with vesicles visualized by VAMP721 v-SNARE, but the majority of the foci represent sites without vesicles, as indicated by electron microscopy and drug treatments, supporting the concept of the exocyst functioning as a dynamic particle. We observed a decrease of SEC6–green fluorescent protein foci in an exo70A1 exocyst mutant. Finally, we documented decreased VAMP721 trafficking to the plasma membrane in exo70A1 and exo84b mutants. Our data support the concept that the exocyst-complex subunits dynamically dock and undock at the plasma membrane to create sites primed for vesicle tethering.
The exocyst consists of eight rod-shaped subunits that align in a side-by-side manner to tether secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane in preparation for fusion. Two subunits, Sec3p and Exo70p, localize to exocytic sites by an actin-independent pathway, whereas the other six ride on vesicles along actin cables. Here, we demonstrate that three of the four domains of Exo70p are essential for growth. The remaining domain, domain C, is not essential but when deleted, it leads to synthetic lethality with many secretory mutations, defects in exocyst assembly of exocyst components Sec5p and Sec6p, and loss of actin-independent localization. This is analogous to a deletion of the amino-terminal domain of Sec3p, which prevents an interaction with Cdc42p or Rho1p and blocks its actin-independent localization. The two mutations are synthetically lethal, even in the presence of high copy number suppressors that can bypass complete deletions of either single gene. Although domain C binds Rho3p, loss of the Exo70p-Rho3p interaction does not account for the synthetic lethal interactions or the exocyst assembly defects. The results suggest that either Exo70p or Sec3p must associate with the plasma membrane for the exocyst to function as a vesicle tether.
Invadopodia are actin-rich membrane protrusions formed by tumor cells that degrade the extracellular matrix for invasion. Invadopodia formation involves membrane protrusions driven by Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization and secretion of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) at the focal degrading sites. The exocyst mediates the tethering of post-Golgi secretory vesicles at the plasma membrane for exocytosis and has recently been implicated in regulating actin dynamics during cell migration. Here, we report that the exocyst plays a pivotal role in invadopodial activity. With RNAi knockdown of the exocyst component Exo70 or Sec8, MDA-MB-231 cells expressing constitutively active c-Src failed to form invadopodia. On the other hand, overexpression of Exo70 promoted invadopodia formation. Disrupting the exocyst function by siEXO70 or siSEC8 treatment or by expression of a dominant negative fragment of Exo70 inhibited the secretion of MMPs. We have also found that the exocyst interacts with the Arp2/3 complex in cells with high invasion potential; blocking the exocyst-Arp2/3 interaction inhibited Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization and invadopodia formation. Together, our results suggest that the exocyst plays important roles in cell invasion by mediating the secretion of MMPs at focal degrading sites and regulating Arp2/3-mediated actin dynamics.
The exocyst is an octameric protein complex required to tether secretory vesicles to exocytic sites and to retain ER tubules at the apical tip of budded cells. Unlike the other five exocyst genes, SEC3, SEC5, and EXO70 are not essential for growth or secretion when either the upstream activator rab, Sec4p, or the downstream SNARE-binding component, Sec1p, are overproduced. Analysis of the suppressed sec3Δ, sec5Δ, and exo70Δ strains demonstrates that the corresponding proteins confer differential effects on vesicle targeting and ER inheritance. Sec3p and Sec5p are more critical than Exo70p for ER inheritance. Although nonessential under these conditions, Sec3p, Sec5p, and Exo70p are still important for tethering, as in their absence the exocyst is only partially assembled. Sec1p overproduction results in increased SNARE complex levels, indicating a role in assembly or stabilization of SNARE complexes. Furthermore, a fraction of Sec1p can be coprecipitated with the exoycst. Our results suggest that Sec1p couples exocyst-mediated vesicle tethering with SNARE-mediated docking and fusion.
In many insects, development of the oocyte arrests temporarily just before vitellogenesis, the period when vitellogenins (yolk proteins) accumulate in the oocyte. Following hormonal and environmental cues, development of the oocyte resumes, and endocytosis of vitellogenins begins. An essential component of yolk uptake is the vitellogenin receptor. In this report, we describe the ovarian expression pattern and subcellular localization of the mRNA and protein encoded by the Drosophila melanogaster vitellogenin receptor gene yolkless (yl). yl RNA and protein are both expressed very early during the development of the oocyte, long before vitellogenesis begins. RNA in situ hybridization and lacZ reporter analyses show that yl RNA is synthesized by the germ line nurse cells and then transported to the oocyte. Yl protein is evenly distributed throughout the oocyte during the previtellogenic stages of oogenesis, demonstrating that the failure to take up yolk in these early stage oocyte is not due to the absence of the receptor. The transition to the vitellogenic stages is marked by the accumulation of yolk via clathrin-coated vesicles. After this transition, yolk protein receptor levels increase markedly at the cortex of the egg. Consistent with its role in yolk uptake, immunogold labeling of the receptor reveals Yl in endocytic structures at the cortex of wild-type vitellogenic oocytes. In addition, shortly after the inception of yolk uptake, we find multivesicular bodies where the yolk and receptor are distinctly partitioned. By the end of vitellogenesis, the receptor localizes predominantly to the cortex of the oocyte. However, during oogenesis in yl mutants that express full-length protein yet fail to incorporate yolk proteins, the receptor remains evenly distributed throughout the oocyte.
Polarized exocytosis is important for morphogenesis and cell growth. The exocyst is a multiprotein complex implicated in tethering secretory vesicles at specific sites of the plasma membrane for exocytosis. In the budding yeast, the exocyst is localized to sites of bud emergence or the tips of small daughter cells, where it mediates secretion and cell surface expansion. To understand how exocytosis is spatially controlled, we systematically analyzed the localization of Sec15p, a member of the exocyst complex and downstream effector of the rab protein Sec4p, in various mutants. We found that the polarized localization of Sec15p relies on functional upstream membrane traffic, activated rab protein Sec4p, and its guanine exchange factor Sec2p. The initial targeting of both Sec4p and Sec15p to the bud tip depends on polarized actin cable. However, different recycling mechanisms for rab and Sec15p may account for the different kinetics of polarization for these two proteins. We also found that Sec3p and Sec15p, though both members of the exocyst complex, rely on distinctive targeting mechanisms for their localization. The assembly of the exocyst may integrate various cellular signals to ensure that exocytosis is tightly controlled. Key regulators of cell polarity such as Cdc42p are important for the recruitment of the exocyst to the budding site. Conversely, we found that the proper localization of these cell polarity regulators themselves also requires a functional exocytosis pathway. We further report that Bem1p, a protein essential for the recruitment of signaling molecules for the establishment of cell polarity, interacts with the exocyst complex. We propose that a cyclical regulatory network contributes to the establishment and maintenance of polarized cell growth in yeast.
Ultrastructural analysis of developing oocytes produced by the recessive female sterile mutant, yolkless (yl), in Drosophila melanogaster shows that yl+ gene activity is necessary for coated pit and coated vesicle formation within these oocytes. 29 alleles of the mutation are known to exist, and they fall either within a strongly affected class or a weakly affected class. Analysis of oocytes produced by females homozygous for the strongly affected class of alleles shows a greater than 90% reduction in the numbers of coated pits and coated vesicles. These oocytes have very little proteinaceous yolk, and the females accumulate vitellogenin (the yolk protein precursor) within their hemolymph. Moreover, females homozygous or hemizygous for a given strong allele produce mature oocytes that are flaccid. Alternatively, females homozygous or hemizygous for weak alleles produce yolk-filled oocytes, but the number of coated pits and coated vesicles within these oocytes is 50% of that found in the oocytes of wild-type females. Despite the presence of yolk within these oocytes, females homozygous for weak yl- alleles remain sterile, and their mature oviposited eggs collapse with time.
The Neurospora crassa exocyst presents two distinct localization patterns. EXO-70 and -84 colocalize with a region of the Spitzenkörper occupied by secretory macrovesicles. In contrast, SEC-3, -5, -6, -8, and -15 localize distinctively at the apical plasma membrane.
Fungal hyphae are among the most highly polarized cells. Hyphal polarized growth is supported by tip-directed transport of secretory vesicles, which accumulate temporarily in a stratified manner in an apical vesicle cluster, the Spitzenkörper. The exocyst complex is required for tethering of secretory vesicles to the apical plasma membrane. We determined that the presence of an octameric exocyst complex is required for the formation of a functional Spitzenkörper and maintenance of regular hyphal growth in Neurospora crassa. Two distinct localization patterns of exocyst subunits at the hyphal tip suggest the dynamic formation of two assemblies. The EXO-70/EXO-84 subunits are found at the peripheral part of the Spitzenkörper, which partially coincides with the outer macrovesicular layer, whereas exocyst components SEC-5, -6, -8, and -15 form a delimited crescent at the apical plasma membrane. Localization of SEC-6 and EXO-70 to the plasma membrane and the Spitzenkörper, respectively, depends on actin and microtubule cytoskeletons. The apical region of exocyst-mediated vesicle fusion, elucidated by the plasma membrane–associated exocyst subunits, indicates the presence of an exocytotic gradient with a tip-high maximum that dissipates gradually toward the subapex, confirming the earlier predictions of the vesicle supply center model for hyphal morphogenesis.
Live-cell imaging of the exocyst subunit Sec8 reveals how the protein’s spatiotemporal dynamics correlate with its roles in vesicle fusion.
Tethers play ubiquitous roles in membrane trafficking and influence the specificity of vesicle attachment. Unlike soluble N-ethyl-maleimide–sensitive fusion attachment protein receptors (SNAREs), the spatiotemporal dynamics of tethers relative to vesicle fusion are poorly characterized. The most extensively studied tethering complex is the exocyst, which spatially targets vesicles to sites on the plasma membrane. By using a mammalian genetic replacement strategy, we were able to assemble fluorescently tagged Sec8 into the exocyst complex, which was shown to be functional by biochemical, trafficking, and morphological criteria. Ultrasensitive live-cell imaging revealed that Sec8-TagRFP moved to the cell cortex on vesicles, which preferentially originated from the endocytic recycling compartment. Surprisingly, Sec8 remained with vesicles until full dilation of the fusion pore, supporting potential coupling with SNARE fusion machinery. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching analysis of Sec8 at cell protrusions revealed that a significant fraction was immobile. Additionally, Sec8 dynamically repositioned to the site of membrane expansion, suggesting that it may respond to local cues during early cell polarization.
Exocytosis in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae occurs at discrete domains of the plasma membrane. The protein complex that tethers incoming vesicles to sites of secretion is known as the exocyst. We have used photobleaching recovery experiments to characterize the dynamic behavior of the eight subunits that make up the exocyst. One subset (Sec5p, Sec6p, Sec8p, Sec10p, Sec15p, and Exo84p) exhibits mobility similar to that of the vesicle-bound Rab family protein Sec4p, whereas Sec3p and Exo70p exhibit substantially more stability. Disruption of actin assembly abolishes the ability of the first subset of subunits to recover after photobleaching, whereas Sec3p and Exo70p are resistant. Immunogold electron microscopy and epifluorescence video microscopy indicate that all exocyst subunits, except for Sec3p, are associated with secretory vesicles as they arrive at exocytic sites. Assembly of the exocyst occurs when the first subset of subunits, delivered on vesicles, joins Sec3p and Exo70p on the plasma membrane. Exocyst assembly serves to both target and tether vesicles to sites of exocytosis.
Rab guanosine triphosphatases regulate intracellular membrane traffic by binding specific effector proteins. The yeast Rab Sec4p plays multiple roles in the polarized transport of post-Golgi vesicles to, and their subsequent fusion with, the plasma membrane, suggesting the involvement of several effectors. Yet, only one Sec4p effector has been documented to date: the exocyst protein Sec15p. The exocyst is an octameric protein complex required for tethering secretory vesicles, which is a prerequisite for membrane fusion. In this study, we describe the identification of a second Sec4p effector, Sro7p, which is a member of the lethal giant larvae tumor suppressor family. Sec4-GTP binds to Sro7p in cell extracts as well as to purified Sro7p, and the two proteins can be coimmunoprecipitated. Furthermore, we demonstrate the formation of a ternary complex of Sec4-GTP, Sro7p, and the t-SNARE Sec9p. Genetic data support our conclusion that Sro7p functions downstream of Sec4p and further imply that Sro7p and the exocyst share partially overlapping functions, possibly in SNARE regulation.
The exocyst complex plays a critical role in targeting and tethering vesicles to specific sites of the plasma membrane. These events are crucial for polarized delivery of membrane components to the cell surface, which is critical for cell motility and division. Though Rho GTPases are involved in regulating actin dynamics and membrane trafficking, their role in exocyst-mediated vesicle targeting is not very clear. Herein, we present evidence that depletion of GEF-H1, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rho proteins, affects vesicle trafficking. Interestingly, we found that GEF-H1 directly binds to exocyst component Sec5 in a Ral GTPase-dependent manner. This interaction promotes RhoA activation, which then regulates exocyst assembly/localization and exocytosis. Taken together, our work defines a mechanism for RhoA activation in response to RalA-Sec5 signaling and involvement of GEF-H1/RhoA pathway in the regulation of vesicle trafficking.
The exocyst is a multi-protein complex essential for exocytosis and plasma membrane remodeling. The assembly of the exocyst complex mediates the tethering of post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane prior to fusion. Elucidating the mechanisms regulating exocyst assembly is important for the understanding of exocytosis. Here we show that the exocyst component Exo70 is a direct substrate of the Extracellular signal-Regulated Kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2). ERK1/2 phosphorylation enhances the binding of Exo70 to other exocyst components and promotes the assembly the exocyst complex in response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) signaling. We further demonstrate that ERK1/2 regulates exocytosis as blocking ERK1/2 signaling by a chemical inhibitor or the expression of an Exo70 mutant defective in ERK1/2 phosphorylation inhibited exocytosis. In tumor cells, blocking Exo70 phosphorylation inhibits matrix metalloproteinase secretion and invadopodia formation. ERK1/2 phosphorylation of Exo70 may thus coordinate exocytosis with other cellular events in response to growth factor signaling.
ERK1/2; exocyst; Exo70; vesicle tethering; exocytosis; EGF; invadopodia
The exocyst is an octameric protein complex, which mediates the tethering of post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane prior to exocytic fusion. The exocyst assembles by side-by-side packing of rod-shaped subunits composed of helical bundles. The targeting of secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane involves direct interactions of the exocyst with PI(4,5)P2. In addition, a number of small GTP-binding proteins interact with components of the exocyst and regulate the assembly, localization, and function of this complex. Here we review the recent advances in the field, focusing on the function of the exocyst in polarized exocytosis.
The octameric exocyst complex is associated with the junctional complex and recycling endosomes and is proposed to selectively tether cargo vesicles directed toward the basolateral surface of polarized Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells. We observed that the exocyst subunits Sec6, Sec8, and Exo70 were localized to early endosomes, transferrin-positive common recycling endosomes, and Rab11a-positive apical recycling endosomes of polarized MDCK cells. Consistent with its localization to multiple populations of endosomes, addition of function-blocking Sec8 antibodies to streptolysin-O–permeabilized cells revealed exocyst requirements for several endocytic pathways including basolateral recycling, apical recycling, and basolateral-to-apical transcytosis. The latter was selectively dependent on interactions between the small GTPase Rab11a and Sec15A and was inhibited by expression of the C-terminus of Sec15A or down-regulation of Sec15A expression using shRNA. These results indicate that the exocyst complex may be a multipurpose regulator of endocytic traffic directed toward both poles of polarized epithelial cells and that transcytotic traffic is likely to require Rab11a-dependent recruitment and modulation of exocyst function, likely through interactions with Sec15A.
Epithelial cyst and tubule formation are critical processes that
involve transient, highly choreographed changes in cell polarity.
Factors controlling these changes in polarity are largely unknown. One
candidate factor is the highly conserved eight-member protein complex
called the exocyst. We show that during tubulogenesis in an in vitro
model system the exocyst relocalized along growing tubules consistent
with changes in cell polarity. In yeast, the exocyst subunit Sec10p is
a crucial component linking polarized exocytic vesicles with the rest
of the exocyst complex and, ultimately, the plasma membrane. When the
exocyst subunit human Sec10 was exogenously expressed in
epithelial Madin-Darby canine kidney cells, there was a selective
increase in the synthesis and delivery of apical and basolateral
secretory proteins and a basolateral plasma membrane protein, but not
an apical plasma membrane protein. Overexpression of human Sec10
resulted in more efficient and rapid cyst formation and increased
tubule formation upon stimulation with hepatocyte growth factor. We
conclude that the exocyst plays a central role in the development of
epithelial cysts and tubules.