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1.  Regulation of exocytosis by the exocyst subunit Sec6 and the SM protein Sec1 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(2):337-346.
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.
PMCID: PMC3258177  PMID: 22114349
2.  Vesicles carry most exocyst subunits to exocytic sites marked by the remaining two subunits, Sec3p and Exo70p 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2004;167(5):889-901.
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.
PMCID: PMC2172445  PMID: 15583031
3.  Cyclical Regulation of the Exocyst and Cell Polarity Determinants for Polarized Cell Growth 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(3):1500-1512.
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.
PMCID: PMC551511  PMID: 15647373
4.  The Neurospora crassa exocyst complex tethers Spitzenkörper vesicles to the apical plasma membrane during polarized growth 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(8):1312-1326.
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.
PMCID: PMC3982996  PMID: 24523289
5.  Visualization of the exocyst complex dynamics at the plasma membrane of Arabidopsis thaliana 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(4):510-520.
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.
PMCID: PMC3571873  PMID: 23283982
6.  Sec3p Is Needed for the Spatial Regulation of Secretion and for the Inheritance of the Cortical Endoplasmic ReticulumV⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(12):4770-4782.
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.
PMCID: PMC284782  PMID: 12960429
7.  The role of Sec3p in secretory vesicle targeting and exocyst complex assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(23):3813-3822.
The exocyst has been speculated to mediate the tethering of secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane. However, there has been no direct experimental evidence for this notion. An ectopic targeting strategy is used to provide experimental support for this model and investigate the regulators of exocyst assembly and vesicle targeting.
During membrane trafficking, vesicular carriers are transported and tethered to their cognate acceptor compartments before soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein (SNARE)-mediated membrane fusion. The exocyst complex was believed to target and tether post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane during exocytosis. However, no definitive experimental evidence is available to support this notion. We developed an ectopic targeting assay in yeast in which each of the eight exocyst subunits was expressed on the surface of mitochondria. We find that most of the exocyst subunits were able to recruit the other members of the complex there, and mistargeting of the exocyst led to secretion defects in cells. On the other hand, only the ectopically located Sec3p subunit is capable of recruiting secretory vesicles to mitochondria. Our assay also suggests that both cytosolic diffusion and cytoskeleton-based transport mediate the recruitment of exocyst subunits and secretory vesicles during exocytosis. In addition, the Rab GTPase Sec4p and its guanine nucleotide exchange factor Sec2p regulate the assembly of the exocyst complex. Our study helps to establish the role of the exocyst subunits in tethering and allows the investigation of the mechanisms that regulate vesicle tethering during exocytosis.
PMCID: PMC4230786  PMID: 25232005
8.  SM proteins Sly1 and Vps33 co-assemble with Sec17 and SNARE complexes to oppose SNARE disassembly by Sec18 
eLife  2014;3:e02272.
Secretory and endolysosomal fusion events are driven by SNAREs and cofactors, including Sec17/α-SNAP, Sec18/NSF, and Sec1/Munc18 (SM) proteins. SMs are essential for fusion in vivo, but the basis of this requirement is enigmatic. We now report that, in addition to their established roles as fusion accelerators, SM proteins Sly1 and Vps33 directly shield SNARE complexes from Sec17- and Sec18-mediated disassembly. In vivo, wild-type Sly1 and Vps33 function are required to withstand overproduction of Sec17. In vitro, Sly1 and Vps33 impede SNARE complex disassembly by Sec18 and ATP. Unexpectedly, Sec17 directly promotes selective loading of Sly1 and Vps33 onto cognate SNARE complexes. A large thermodynamic barrier limits SM binding, implying that significant conformational rearrangements are involved. In a working model, Sec17 and SMs accelerate fusion mediated by cognate SNARE complexes and protect them from NSF-mediated disassembly, while mis-assembled or non-cognate SNARE complexes are eliminated through kinetic proofreading by Sec18.
eLife digest
Eukaryotic organisms, from single-celled yeast to humans, divide their cells into membrane-bound compartments (organelles) of distinct function. To move from one compartment to another, or to enter or exit a cell, large molecules like proteins are packaged into small membrane sacs called vesicles.
To release its cargo, the membrane of a vesicle must fuse with the membrane of the correct destination compartment. The SNARE family of proteins plays a key role in this fusion process. As the membranes of a vesicle and target compartment come close, SNARE proteins located on each membrane form a SNARE complex that tethers the vesicle in place and causes the two membranes fuse. SNARE proteins do not act alone in this process: the SM family of proteins also plays an essential role in SNARE-mediated membrane fusion. However, it is still not clear exactly why the SM proteins are needed.
Lobingier et al. used the yeast model organism and biochemical studies with purified proteins to show that SM proteins help SNARE complexes form at the right time by regulating the delicate balance between SNARE complex formation and disassembly. This is achieved through the interplay of SM proteins and two other proteins (Sec17 and Sec18). Sec17 is known to load Sec18 onto SNARE complexes to break them apart. Lobingier et al. showed that Sec17 can also load SM proteins on SNARE complexes. This hinders Sec18 action, and so helps to keep the SNARE complexes intact. Because each SM protein tested only binds to the SNARE complex that should function at the membrane where the SM protein resides, these findings suggest SM proteins perform quality control at potential sites of membrane fusion.
PMCID: PMC4060006  PMID: 24837546
membrane; SNARE; docking; HOPS; lysosome; Golgi; S. cerevisiae
9.  The rab Exchange Factor Sec2p Reversibly Associates with the Exocyst 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(6):2757-2769.
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.
PMCID: PMC1474791  PMID: 16611746
10.  Exocyst Requirement for Endocytic Traffic Directed Toward the Apical and Basolateral Poles of Polarized MDCK Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(10):3978-3992.
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.
PMCID: PMC1995710  PMID: 17686995
11.  The yeast lgl family member Sro7p is an effector of the secretory Rab GTPase Sec4p 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;172(1):55-66.
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.
PMCID: PMC2063532  PMID: 16390997
12.  Sec3-containing Exocyst Complex Is Required for Desmosome Assembly in Mammalian Epithelial Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(1):152-164.
In epithelial cells, Sec3 associates with Exocyst complexes enriched at desmosomes and centrosomes, distinct from Sec6/8 complexes at the apical junctional complex. RNAi-mediated suppression of Sec3 alters trafficking of desmosomal cadherins and impairs desmosome morphology and function, without noticeable effect on adherens junctions.
The Exocyst is a conserved multisubunit complex involved in the docking of post-Golgi transport vesicles to sites of membrane remodeling during cellular processes such as polarization, migration, and division. In mammalian epithelial cells, Exocyst complexes are recruited to nascent sites of cell–cell contact in response to E-cadherin–mediated adhesive interactions, and this event is an important early step in the assembly of intercellular junctions. Sec3 has been hypothesized to function as a spatial landmark for the development of polarity in budding yeast, but its role in epithelial cells has not been investigated. Here, we provide evidence in support of a function for a Sec3-containing Exocyst complex in the assembly or maintenance of desmosomes, adhesive junctions that link intermediate filament networks to sites of strong intercellular adhesion. We show that Sec3 associates with a subset of Exocyst complexes that are enriched at desmosomes. Moreover, we found that membrane recruitment of Sec3 is dependent on cadherin-mediated adhesion but occurs later than that of the known Exocyst components Sec6 and Sec8 that are recruited to adherens junctions. RNA interference-mediated suppression of Sec3 expression led to specific impairment of both the morphology and function of desmosomes, without noticeable effect on adherens junctions. These results suggest that two different exocyst complexes may function in basal–lateral membrane trafficking and will enable us to better understand how exocytosis is spatially organized during development of epithelial plasma membrane domains.
PMCID: PMC2801709  PMID: 19889837
13.  Fission Yeast Sec3 and Exo70 Are Transported on Actin Cables and Localize the Exocyst Complex to Cell Poles 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e40248.
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.
PMCID: PMC3386988  PMID: 22768263
14.  Exocyst proteins in cytokinesis 
The Exocyst is an octameric protein complex comprised of Sec3, Sec5, Sec6, Sec8, Sec10, Sec15, Exo70, and Exo84 subunits.1, 2 This complex was first identified in budding yeast where it acts to target vesicles to the bud tip and the cleavage furrow.3 Here, we show that all Exocyst subunits are required for cytokinesis in mammalian cells. We further show that a subset of Exocyst proteins are differentially regulated by Rab11, consistent with recent studies implicating Rab11 vesicles in Exocyst protein trafficking.
PMCID: PMC3923785  PMID: 24563720
Rab11; abscission; endosome; exocyst; mitosis
15.  An Internal Domain of Exo70p Is Required for Actin-independent Localization and Mediates Assembly of Specific Exocyst Components 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(1):153-163.
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.
PMCID: PMC2613103  PMID: 18946089
16.  The Yeast Par-1 Homologs Kin1 and Kin2 Show Genetic and Physical Interactions with Components of the Exocytic Machinery 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(2):532-549.
Kin1 and Kin2 are Saccharomyces cerevisiae counterparts of Par-1, the Caenorhabditis elegans kinase essential for the establishment of polarity in the one cell embryo. Here, we present evidence for a novel link between Kin1, Kin2, and the secretory machinery of the budding yeast. We isolated KIN1 and KIN2 as suppressors of a mutant form of Rho3, a Rho-GTPase acting in polarized trafficking. Genetic analysis suggests that KIN1 and KIN2 act downstream of the Rab-GTPase Sec4, its exchange factor Sec2, and several components of the vesicle tethering complex, the Exocyst. We show that Kin1 and Kin2 physically interact with the t-SNARE Sec9 and the Lgl homologue Sro7, proteins acting at the final stage of exocytosis. Structural analysis of Kin2 reveals that its catalytic activity is essential for its function in the secretory pathway and implicates the conserved 42-amino acid tail at the carboxy terminal of the kinase in autoinhibition. Finally, we find that Kin1 and Kin2 induce phosphorylation of t-SNARE Sec9 in vivo and stimulate its release from the plasma membrane. In summary, we report the finding that yeast Par-1 counterparts are associated with and regulate the function of the exocytic apparatus via phosphorylation of Sec9.
PMCID: PMC545889  PMID: 15563607
17.  Fission Yeast Sec3 Bridges the Exocyst Complex to the Actin Cytoskeleton 
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2012;13(11):1481-1495.
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.
PMCID: PMC3531892  PMID: 22891673
actin; endocytosis; exocyst; morphology; Schizosaccharomyces pombe
18.  Developmentally distinct activities of the exocyst enable rapid cell elongation and determine meristem size during primary root growth in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):386.
Exocytosis is integral to root growth: trafficking components of systems that control growth (e.g., PIN auxin transport proteins) to the plasma membrane, and secreting materials that expand the cell wall to the apoplast. Spatiotemporal regulation of exocytosis in eukaryotes often involves the exocyst, an octameric complex that tethers selected secretory vesicles to specific sites on the plasma membrane and facilitates their exocytosis. We evaluated Arabidopsis lines with mutations in four exocyst components (SEC5, SEC8, EXO70A1 and EXO84B) to explore exocyst function in primary root growth.
The mutants have root growth rates that are 82% to 11% of wild-type. Even in lines with the most severe defects, the organization of the quiescent center and tissue layers at the root tips appears similar to wild-type, although meristematic, transition, and elongation zones are shorter. Reduced cell production rates in the mutants are due to the shorter meristems, but not to lengthened cell cycles. Additionally, mutants demonstrate reduced anisotropic cell expansion in the elongation zone, but not the meristematic zone, resulting in shorter mature cells that are similar in shape to wild-type. As expected, hypersensitivity to brefeldin A links the mutant root growth defect to altered vesicular trafficking. Several experimental approaches (e.g., dose–response measurements, localization of signaling components) failed to identify aberrant auxin or brassinosteroid signaling as a primary driver for reduced root growth in exocyst mutants.
The exocyst participates in two spatially distinct developmental processes, apparently by mechanisms not directly linked to auxin or brassinosteroid signaling pathways, to help establish root meristem size, and to facilitate rapid cell expansion in the elongation zone.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0386-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4302519  PMID: 25551204
Exocyst; Root growth; Meristem; Cell expansion; Auxin; Brassinosteroid
19.  Essential function of Drosophila Sec6 in apical exocytosis of epithelial photoreceptor cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;169(4):635-646.
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.
PMCID: PMC2171699  PMID: 15897260
20.  Sec1p Binds to Snare Complexes and Concentrates at Sites of Secretion 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;146(2):333-344.
Proteins of the Sec1 family have been shown to interact with target-membrane t-SNAREs that are homologous to the neuronal protein syntaxin. We demonstrate that yeast Sec1p coprecipitates not only the syntaxin homologue Ssop, but also the other two exocytic SNAREs (Sec9p and Sncp) in amounts and in proportions characteristic of SNARE complexes in yeast lysates. The interaction between Sec1p and Ssop is limited by the abundance of SNARE complexes present in sec mutants that are defective in either SNARE complex assembly or disassembly. Furthermore, the localization of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged Sec1p coincides with sites of vesicle docking and fusion where SNARE complexes are believed to assemble and function. The proposal that SNARE complexes act as receptors for Sec1p is supported by the mislocalization of GFP-Sec1p in a mutant defective for SNARE complex assembly and by the robust localization of GFP-Sec1p in a mutant that fails to disassemble SNARE complexes. The results presented here place yeast Sec1p at the core of the exocytic fusion machinery, bound to SNARE complexes and localized to sites of secretion.
PMCID: PMC3206579  PMID: 10427089
Sec1 proteins; syntaxin proteins; SNARE complex; secretion; yeast
21.  Dominant Negative Alleles of SEC10 Reveal Distinct Domains Involved in Secretion and Morphogenesis in Yeast 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1998;9(7):1725-1739.
The accurate targeting of secretory vesicles to distinct sites on the plasma membrane is necessary to achieve polarized growth and to establish specialized domains at the surface of eukaryotic cells. Members of a protein complex required for exocytosis, the exocyst, have been localized to regions of active secretion in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae where they may function to specify sites on the plasma membrane for vesicle docking and fusion. In this study we have addressed the function of one member of the exocyst complex, Sec10p. We have identified two functional domains of Sec10p that act in a dominant-negative manner to inhibit cell growth upon overexpression. Phenotypic and biochemical analysis of the dominant-negative mutants points to a bifunctional role for Sec10p. One domain, consisting of the amino-terminal two-thirds of Sec10p directly interacts with Sec15p, another exocyst component. Overexpression of this domain displaces the full-length Sec10 from the exocyst complex, resulting in a block in exocytosis and an accumulation of secretory vesicles. The carboxy-terminal domain of Sec10p does not interact with other members of the exocyst complex and expression of this domain does not cause a secretory defect. Rather, this mutant results in the formation of elongated cells, suggesting that the second domain of Sec10p is required for morphogenesis, perhaps regulating the reorientation of the secretory pathway from the tip of the emerging daughter cell toward the mother–daughter connection during cell cycle progression.
PMCID: PMC25411  PMID: 9658167
22.  Evolution of the Land Plant Exocyst Complexes 
Exocyst is an evolutionarily conserved vesicle tethering complex functioning especially in the last stage of exocytosis. Homologs of its eight canonical subunits – Sec3, Sec5, Sec6, Sec8, Sec10, Sec15, Exo70, and Exo84 – were found also in higher plants and confirmed to form complexes in vivo, and to participate in cell growth including polarized expansion of pollen tubes and root hairs. Here we present results of a phylogenetic study of land plant exocyst subunits encoded by a selection of completely sequenced genomes representing a variety of plant, mostly angiosperm, lineages. According to their evolution histories, plant exocyst subunits can be divided into several groups. The core subunits Sec6, Sec8, and Sec10, together with Sec3 and Sec5, underwent few, if any fixed duplications in the tracheophytes (though they did amplify in the moss Physcomitrella patens), while others form larger families, with the number of paralogs ranging typically from two to eight per genome (Sec15, Exo84) to several dozens per genome (Exo70). Most of the diversity, which can be in some cases traced down to the origins of land plants, can be attributed to the peripheral subunits Exo84 and, in particular, Exo70. As predicted previously, early land plants (including possibly also the Rhyniophytes) encoded three ancestral Exo70 paralogs which further diversified in the course of land plant evolution. Our results imply that plants do not have a single “Exocyst complex” – instead, they appear to possess a diversity of exocyst variants unparalleled among other organisms studied so far. This feature might perhaps be directly related to the demands of building and maintenance of the complicated and spatially diverse structures of the endomembranes and cell surfaces in multicellular land plants.
PMCID: PMC3399122  PMID: 22826714
exocyst; phylogeny; land plants; co-evolution; gene duplication
23.  The Role of the Exocyst in Matrix Metalloproteinase Secretion and Actin Dynamics during Tumor Cell Invadopodia Formation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(16):3763-3771.
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.
PMCID: PMC2777935  PMID: 19535457
24.  Compartmentalization of the Exocyst Complex in Lipid Rafts Controls Glut4 Vesicle TetheringD⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(5):2303-2311.
Lipid raft microdomains act as organizing centers for signal transduction. We report here that the exocyst complex, consisting of Exo70, Sec6, and Sec8, regulates the compartmentalization of Glut4-containing vesicles at lipid raft domains in adipocytes. Exo70 is recruited by the G protein TC10 after activation by insulin and brings with it Sec6 and Sec8. Knockdowns of these proteins block insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. Moreover, their targeting to lipid rafts is required for glucose uptake and Glut4 docking at the plasma membrane. The assembly of this complex also requires the PDZ domain protein SAP97, a member of the MAGUKs family, which binds to Sec8 upon its translocation to the lipid raft. Exocyst assembly at lipid rafts sets up targeting sites for Glut4 vesicles, which transiently associate with these microdomains upon stimulation of cells with insulin. These results suggest that the TC10/exocyst complex/SAP97 axis plays an important role in the tethering of Glut4 vesicles to the plasma membrane in adipocytes.
PMCID: PMC1446102  PMID: 16525015
25.  Sequential Analysis of Trans-SNARE Formation in Intracellular Membrane Fusion 
PLoS Biology  2012;10(1):e1001243.
SM proteins stabilize cis-SNARE complexes leading to a specific preferred topology for trans-SNARE formation.
SNARE complexes are required for membrane fusion in the endomembrane system. They contain coiled-coil bundles of four helices, three (Qa, Qb, and Qc) from target (t)-SNAREs and one (R) from the vesicular (v)-SNARE. NSF/Sec18 disrupts these cis-SNARE complexes, allowing reassembly of their subunits into trans-SNARE complexes and subsequent fusion. Studying these reactions in native yeast vacuoles, we found that NSF/Sec18 activates the vacuolar cis-SNARE complex by selectively displacing the vacuolar Qa SNARE, leaving behind a QbcR subcomplex. This subcomplex serves as an acceptor for a Qa SNARE from the opposite membrane, leading to Qa-QbcR trans-complexes. Activity tests of vacuoles with diagnostic distributions of inactivating mutations over the two fusion partners confirm that this distribution accounts for a major share of the fusion activity. The persistence of the QbcR cis-complex and the formation of the Qa-QbcR trans-complex are both sensitive to the Rab-GTPase inhibitor, GDI, and to mutations in the vacuolar tether complex, HOPS (HOmotypic fusion and vacuolar Protein Sorting complex). This suggests that the vacuolar Rab-GTPase, Ypt7, and HOPS restrict cis-SNARE disassembly and thereby bias trans-SNARE assembly into a preferred topology.
Author Summary
Cellular components often travel between organelles in vesicular entities. This intracellular traffic usually involves production of a vesicle containing cargo from one organelle membrane, movement of the vesicle to its destination, and then fusion of the vesicle with the target organelle. Thus, membrane fusion is a fundamental process required for these intracellular trafficking events. SNARE proteins and SM proteins mediate this fusion process. SNAREs form complexes that are either located on the same membrane or vesicle (called cis-SNARE complexes) or bridge two membrane compartments or vesicles (trans-SNARE complexes). The cis-SNARE complexes must be activated before trans-SNARE complexes can form and allow the membranes to fuse. We investigated the mechanism of cis-SNARE activation and trans-SNARE formation by studying the fusion of highly purified yeast vacuoles. We found that cis-SNARE activation involves the selective removal of a single SNARE protein from a pre-existing cis-SNARE complex, which is replaced by a similar SNARE originating from the other fusion partner. The activated cis-SNARE complexes depended on SM proteins for their stability. Thus, we have shown that the preferred topology of trans-SNARE formation is determined by cis-SNARE–SM protein interactions.
PMCID: PMC3260307  PMID: 22272185

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