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 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.
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.
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 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
The exocyst is an evolutionarily conserved octameric protein complex that tethers post-Golgi secretory vesicles at the plasma membrane for exocytosis. To elucidate the mechanism of vesicle tethering, it is important to understand how the exocyst physically associates with the plasma membrane (PM). In this study, we report that the mammalian exocyst subunit Exo70 associates with the PM through its direct interaction with phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P2). Furthermore, we have identified key conserved residues at the C-terminus of Exo70 that are crucial for the interaction of Exo70 with PI(4,5)P2. Disrupting Exo70-PI(4,5)P2 interaction abolished the membrane association of Exo70. We have also found that wild-type Exo70 but not the PI(4,5)P2-binding–deficient Exo70 mutant is capable of recruiting other exocyst components to the PM. Using the ts045 vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein trafficking assay, we demonstrate that Exo70-PI(4,5)P2 interaction is critical for the docking and fusion of post-Golgi secretory vesicles, but not for their transport to the PM.
Rho GTPases are important regulators of polarity in eukaryotic cells. In yeast they are involved in regulating the docking and fusion of secretory vesicles with the cell surface. Our analysis of a Rho3 mutant that is unable to interact with the Exo70 subunit of the exocyst reveals a normal polarization of the exocyst complex as well as other polarity markers. We also find that there is no redundancy between the Rho3–Exo70 and Rho1–Sec3 pathways in the localization of the exocyst. This suggests that Rho3 and Cdc42 act to polarize exocytosis by activating the exocytic machinery at the membrane without the need to first recruit it to sites of polarized growth. Consistent with this model, we find that the ability of Rho3 and Cdc42 to hydrolyze GTP is not required for their role in secretion. Moreover, our analysis of the Sec3 subunit of the exocyst suggests that polarization of the exocyst may be a consequence rather than a cause of polarized exocytosis.
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 is an octameric complex required for polarized secretion. Some components of the exocyst are found on the plasma membrane, whereas others are recruited to Golgi membranes, suggesting that exocyst assembly tethers vesicles to their site of fusion. We have found that in Drosophila melanogaster oocytes the majority of the exocyst component Sec5 is unexpectedly present in clathrin-coated pits and vesicles at the plasma membrane. In oocytes, the major substrate for clathrin-dependent endocytosis is the vitellogenin receptor Yolkless. A truncation mutant of Sec5 (sec5E13) allows the formation of normally sized oocytes but with greatly reduced yolk uptake. We find that in sec5E13 oocytes Yolkless accumulates aberrantly in late endocytic compartments, indicating a defect in the endocytic cycling of the receptor. An analogous truncation of the yeast SEC5 gene results in normal secretion but a temperature-sensitive defect in endocytic recycling. Thus, the exocyst may act in both Golgi to plasma membrane traffic and endocytic cycling, and hence in oocytes is recruited to clathrin-coated pits to facilitate the rapid recycling of Yolkless.
The exocyst -- an octameric protein complex mediating vesicle tethering at the plasma membrane for exocytosis -- is a downstream effector of the Rab proteins Rab8 and Rab11, which are key regulators of membrane trafficking from the trans-Golgi network and recycling endosome to the plasma membrane. Rab11 and Rab8 coordinate their actions via Rabin8, the guanine nucleotide exchange factor of Rab8. A cascade of protein-protein interactions involving the Rabs and the exocyst complex couples the generation of secretory vesicles at donor compartments to their docking and fusion at the plasma membrane. Here, we discuss recent work implicating Rab proteins and the exocyst in primary ciliogenesis and epithelial lumenogenesis. In addition, we discuss early work in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which provided initial insight into the molecular mechanisms of polarized exocytosis.
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.
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 small guanosine triphosphate (GTP)–binding protein ADP-ribosylation factor (ARF) 6 regulates membrane recycling to regions of plasma membrane remodeling via the endocytic pathway. Here, we show that GTP–bound ARF6 interacts with Sec10, a subunit of the exocyst complex involved in docking of vesicles with the plasma membrane. We found that Sec10 localization in the perinuclear region is not restricted to the trans-Golgi network, but extends to recycling endosomes. In addition, we report that depletion of Sec5 exocyst subunit or dominant inhibition of Sec10 affects the function and the morphology of the recycling pathway. Sec10 is found to redistribute to ruffling areas of the plasma membrane in cells expressing GTP-ARF6, whereas dominant inhibition of Sec10 interferes with ARF6-induced cell spreading. Our paper suggests that ARF6 specifies delivery and insertion of recycling membranes to regions of dynamic reorganization of the plasma membrane through interaction with the vesicle-tethering exocyst complex.
ARF6; exocyst complex; recycling; endocytosis; small GTP-binding protein
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.
In fission yeast, long-range transport and vesicle tethering by the exocyst are individually dispensable but together essential for cell morphogenesis. Both pathways function downstream of Cdc42. The exocyst localizes to growing cell tips independently of the cytoskeleton and instead depends on PIP2.
Cell morphogenesis depends on polarized exocytosis. One widely held model posits that long-range transport and exocyst-dependent tethering of exocytic vesicles at the plasma membrane sequentially drive this process. Here, we describe that disruption of either actin-based long-range transport and microtubules or the exocyst did not abolish polarized growth in rod-shaped fission yeast cells. However, disruption of both actin cables and exocyst led to isotropic growth. Exocytic vesicles localized to cell tips in single mutants but were dispersed in double mutants. In contrast, a marker for active Cdc42, a major polarity landmark, localized to discreet cortical sites even in double mutants. Localization and photobleaching studies show that the exocyst subunits Sec6 and Sec8 localize to cell tips largely independently of the actin cytoskeleton, but in a cdc42 and phospholipid phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2)–dependent manner. Thus in fission yeast long-range cytoskeletal transport and PIP2-dependent exocyst represent parallel morphogenetic modules downstream of Cdc42, raising the possibility of similar mechanisms in other cell types.
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
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 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.
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 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.
The exocyst complex subunit Sec5 is a downstream effector of RalA-GTPase which promotes RalA-exocyst interactions and exocyst assembly, serving to tether secretory granules to docking sites on the plasma membrane. We recently reported that RalA regulates biphasic insulin secretion in pancreatic islet β cells in part by tethering insulin secretory granules to Ca2+ channels to assist excitosome assembly. Here, we assessed β cell exocytosis by patch clamp membrane capacitance measurement and total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to investigate the role of Sec5 in regulating insulin secretion. Sec5 is present in human and rodent islet β cells, localized to insulin granules. Sec5 protein depletion in rat INS-1 cells inhibited depolarization-induced release of primed insulin granules from both readily-releasable pool and mobilization from the reserve pool. This reduction in insulin exocytosis was attributed mainly to reduction in recruitment and exocytosis of newcomer insulin granules that undergo minimal docking time at the plasma membrane, but which encompassed a larger portion of biphasic glucose stimulated insulin secretion. Sec5 protein knockdown had little effect on predocked granules, unless vigorously stimulated by KCl depolarization. Taken together, newcomer insulin granules in β cells are more sensitive than predocked granules to Sec5 regulation.
Invadopodia are actin-based membrane protrusions formed at contact sites between invasive tumor cells and the extracellular matrix with matrix proteolytic activity. Actin regulatory proteins participate in invadopodia formation, whereas matrix degradation requires metalloproteinases (MMPs) targeted to invadopodia. In this study, we show that the vesicle-tethering exocyst complex is required for matrix proteolysis and invasion of breast carcinoma cells. We demonstrate that the exocyst subunits Sec3 and Sec8 interact with the polarity protein IQGAP1 and that this interaction is triggered by active Cdc42 and RhoA, which are essential for matrix degradation. Interaction between IQGAP1 and the exocyst is necessary for invadopodia activity because enhancement of matrix degradation induced by the expression of IQGAP1 is lost upon deletion of the exocyst-binding site. We further show that the exocyst and IQGAP1 are required for the accumulation of cell surface membrane type 1 MMP at invadopodia. Based on these results, we propose that invadopodia function in tumor cells relies on the coordination of cytoskeletal assembly and exocytosis downstream of Rho guanosine triphosphatases.
The exocyst complex is an evolutionarily conserved multisubunit protein complex implicated in tethering secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane. Originally identified two decades ago in budding yeast, investigations using several different eukaryotic systems have since made great progress toward determination of the overall structure and organization of the eight exocyst subunits. Studies point to a critical role for the complex as a spatiotemporal regulator through the numerous protein and lipid interactions of its subunits, although a molecular understanding of exocyst function has been challenging to elucidate. Recent progress demonstrates that the exocyst is also important for additional trafficking steps and cellular processes beyond exocytosis, with links to development and disease. In this review, we discuss current knowledge of exocyst architecture, assembly, regulation and its roles in a variety of cellular trafficking pathways.
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.