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1.  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
2.  Actin cables and the exocyst form two independent morphogenesis pathways in the fission yeast 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(1):44-53.
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.
PMCID: PMC3016976  PMID: 21148300
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-Bisphosphate Mediates the Targeting of the Exocyst to the Plasma Membrane for Exocytosis in Mammalian Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(11):4483-4492.
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.
PMCID: PMC2043555  PMID: 17761530
12.  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
13.  The interaction of IQGAP1 with the exocyst complex is required for tumor cell invasion downstream of Cdc42 and RhoA 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;181(6):985-998.
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.
PMCID: PMC2426946  PMID: 18541705
14.  ARF6 controls post-endocytic recycling through its downstream exocyst complex effector 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;163(5):1111-1121.
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.
PMCID: PMC2173613  PMID: 14662749
ARF6; exocyst complex; recycling; endocytosis; small GTP-binding protein
15.  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
16.  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
17.  Rho GTPase regulation of exocytosis in yeast is independent of GTP hydrolysis and polarization of the exocyst complex 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;170(4):583-594.
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.
PMCID: PMC2171504  PMID: 16103227
18.  The Exocyst Complex in Polarized Exocytosis 
Current opinion in cell biology  2009;21(4):537-542.
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.
PMCID: PMC2725219  PMID: 19473826
19.  Proteomic analysis of HIV-1 Nef cellular binding partners reveals a role for exocyst complex proteins in mediating enhancement of intercellular nanotube formation 
Retrovirology  2012;9:33.
HIV-1 Nef protein contributes to pathogenesis via multiple functions that include enhancement of viral replication and infectivity, alteration of intracellular trafficking, and modulation of cellular signaling pathways. Nef stimulates formation of tunneling nanotubes and virological synapses, and is transferred to bystander cells via these intercellular contacts and secreted microvesicles. Nef associates with and activates Pak2, a kinase that regulates T-cell signaling and actin cytoskeleton dynamics, but how Nef promotes nanotube formation is unknown.
To identify Nef binding partners involved in Pak2-association dependent Nef functions, we employed tandem mass spectrometry analysis of Nef immunocomplexes from Jurkat cells expressing wild-type Nef or Nef mutants defective for the ability to associate with Pak2 (F85L, F89H, H191F and A72P, A75P in NL4-3). We report that wild-type, but not mutant Nef, was associated with 5 components of the exocyst complex (EXOC1, EXOC2, EXOC3, EXOC4, and EXOC6), an octameric complex that tethers vesicles at the plasma membrane, regulates polarized exocytosis, and recruits membranes and proteins required for nanotube formation. Additionally, Pak2 kinase was associated exclusively with wild-type Nef. Association of EXOC1, EXOC2, EXOC3, and EXOC4 with wild-type, but not mutant Nef, was verified by co-immunoprecipitation assays in Jurkat cells. Furthermore, shRNA-mediated depletion of EXOC2 in Jurkat cells abrogated Nef-mediated enhancement of nanotube formation. Using bioinformatic tools, we visualized protein interaction networks that reveal functional linkages between Nef, the exocyst complex, and the cellular endocytic and exocytic trafficking machinery.
Exocyst complex proteins are likely a key effector of Nef-mediated enhancement of nanotube formation, and possibly microvesicle secretion. Linkages revealed between Nef and the exocyst complex suggest a new paradigm of exocyst involvement in polarized targeting for intercellular transfer of viral proteins and viruses.
PMCID: PMC3382630  PMID: 22534017
HIV; Nef; Exocyst complex; Intercellular nanotubes; Pak2 kinase; Fluorescence confocal microscopy
20.  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
21.  Sec6p Anchors the Assembled Exocyst Complex at Sites of Secretion 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(3):973-982.
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.
PMCID: PMC2633393  PMID: 19073882
22.  An aPKC-Exocyst Complex Controls Paxillin Phosphorylation and Migration through Localised JNK1 Activation 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(11):e1000235.
The exocyst/aPKC complex controls the spatiotemporal activation of the kinases JNK and ERK at the leading edge of migrating cells and thereby controls the dynamic behaviour of the adhesion protein paxillin during cell migration.
Atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) isoforms have been implicated in cell polarisation and migration through association with Cdc42 and Par6. In distinct migratory models, the Exocyst complex has been shown to be involved in secretory events and migration. By RNA interference (RNAi) we show that the polarised delivery of the Exocyst to the leading edge of migrating NRK cells is dependent upon aPKCs. Reciprocally we demonstrate that aPKC localisation at the leading edge is dependent upon the Exocyst. The basis of this inter-dependence derives from two-hybrid, mass spectrometry, and co-immunoprecipitation studies, which demonstrate the existence of an aPKC–Exocyst interaction mediated by Kibra. Using RNAi and small molecule inhibitors, the aPKCs, Kibra, and the Exocyst are shown to be required for NRK cell migration and it is further demonstrated that they are necessary for the localized activation of JNK at the leading edge. The migration associated control of JNK by aPKCs determines JNK phosphorylation of the plasma membrane substrate Paxillin, but not the phosphorylation of the nuclear JNK substrate, c-jun. This plasma membrane localized JNK cascade serves to control the stability of focal adhesion complexes, regulating migration. The study integrates the polarising behaviour of aPKCs with the pro-migratory properties of the Exocyst complex, defining a higher order complex associated with the localised activation of JNK at the leading edge of migrating cells that determines migration rate.
Author Summary
Cell migration is an essential process in multicellular organisms during such events as embryonic development, the immune response, and wound healing. Cell migration is also instrumental in the development of pathologies such as cancer cell invasion of healthy tissues. To make cells move, key molecules must be engaged in a coordinated manner; understanding which molecules, and how and when they work (for example, under physiological versus pathological conditions) will impact on new therapies designed to suppress abnormal migration. Migrating cells must coordinate two key processes: extension of the front or ‘leading’ edge of the cell and retraction of the back edge. Both processes require the turnover of protein assemblies known as focal adhesion complexes. In this paper we show that two different groups of regulators of migration – aPKC, a protein kinase, and exocyst, a complex of proteins also known to be required for exocytosis – interact physically via the scaffold protein kibra. All these components are required for efficient cell migration and all are enriched at the leading edge of moving cells, in a mutually dependent manner. At the leading edge, these components control the local activation of two additional protein kinases, ERK and JNK. The activation of ERK and JNK at the front of migrating cells in turn controls the phosphorylation of paxillin, a component of focal adhesions. Phosphorylation of paxillin is associated with the presence of more dynamic focal adhesions. Our data thus indicate that an aPKC-kibra-exocyst complex plays a crucial role in delivering local stimulatory signals to the leading edge of migrating cells.
PMCID: PMC2762617  PMID: 19885391
23.  Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate Directs Spermatid Cell Polarity and Exocyst Localization in Drosophila 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(9):1546-1555.
This study identifies phosphoinositides as key regulators of spermatid cell polarity. Polarization and elongation of spermatids in Drosophila are regulated through local synthesis of PIP2 by Sktl, which drives polarized localization of the exocyst complex to promote targeted membrane delivery and polarization of the elongating spermatid cysts.
During spermiogenesis, Drosophila melanogaster spermatids coordinate their elongation in interconnected cysts that become highly polarized, with nuclei localizing to one end and sperm tail growth occurring at the other. Remarkably little is known about the signals that drive spermatid polarity and elongation. Here we identify phosphoinositides as critical regulators of these processes. Reduction of plasma membrane phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) by low-level expression of the PIP2 phosphatase SigD or mutation of the PIP2 biosynthetic enzyme Skittles (Sktl) results in dramatic defects in spermatid cysts, which become bipolar and fail to fully elongate. Defects in polarity are evident from the earliest stages of elongation, indicating that phosphoinositides are required for establishment of polarity. Sktl and PIP2 localize to the growing end of the cysts together with the exocyst complex. Strikingly, the exocyst becomes completely delocalized when PIP2 levels are reduced, and overexpression of Sktl restores exocyst localization and spermatid cyst polarity. Moreover, the exocyst is required for polarity, as partial loss of function of the exocyst subunit Sec8 results in bipolar cysts. Our data are consistent with a mechanism in which localized synthesis of PIP2 recruits the exocyst to promote targeted membrane delivery and polarization of the elongating cysts.
PMCID: PMC2861613  PMID: 20237161
24.  The Microtubule-associated Rho Activating Factor GEF-H1 interacts with Exocyst complex to regulate Vesicle Traffic 
Developmental cell  2012;23(2):397-411.
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.
PMCID: PMC3422510  PMID: 22898781
25.  par-1, Atypical pkc, and PP2A/B55 sur-6 Are Implicated in the Regulation of Exocyst-Mediated Membrane Trafficking in Caenorhabditis elegans 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2013;4(1):173-183.
The exocyst is a conserved protein complex that is involved in tethering secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane and regulating cell polarity. Despite a large body of work, little is known how exocyst function is controlled. To identify regulators for exocyst function, we performed a targeted RNA interference (RNAi) screen in Caenorhabditis elegans to uncover kinases and phosphatases that genetically interact with the exocyst. We identified seven kinase and seven phosphatase genes that display enhanced phenotypes when combined with hypomorphic alleles of exoc-7 (exo70), exoc-8 (exo84), or an exoc-7;exoc-8 double mutant. We show that in line with its reported role in exocytotic membrane trafficking, a defective exoc-8 caused accumulation of exocytotic soluble NSF attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins in both intestinal and neuronal cells in C. elegans. Down-regulation of the phosphatase protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) phosphatase regulatory subunit sur-6/B55 gene resulted in accumulation of exocytic SNARE proteins SNB-1 and SNAP-29 in wild-type and in exoc-8 mutant animals. In contrast, RNAi of the kinase par-1 caused reduced intracellular green fluorescent protein signal for the same proteins. Double RNAi experiments for par-1, pkc-3, and sur-6/B55 in C. elegans suggest a possible cooperation and involvement in postembryo lethality, developmental timing, as well as SNARE protein trafficking. Functional analysis of the homologous kinases and phosphatases in Drosophila median neurosecretory cells showed that atypical protein kinase C kinase and phosphatase PP2A regulate exocyst-dependent, insulin-like peptide secretion. Collectively, these results characterize kinases and phosphatases implicated in the regulation of exocyst function, and suggest the possibility for interplay between the par-1 and pkc-3 kinases and the PP2A phosphatase regulatory subunit sur-6 in this process.
PMCID: PMC3887533  PMID: 24192838
Caenorhabditis elegans; exocyst; PP2A; par-1; pkc-3

Results 1-25 (830323)