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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 exocyst complex tethers post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane prior to docking and fusion. In this study, we identify Sec3, the missing component of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe exocyst complex (SpSec3). SpSec3 shares many properties with its orthologs, and its mutants are rescued by human Sec3/EXOC1. Although involved in exocytosis, SpSec3 does not appear to mark the site of exocyst complex assembly at the plasma membrane. It does, however, mark the sites of actin cytoskeleton recruitment and controls the organization of all three yeast actin structures: the actin cables, endocytic actin patches and actomyosin ring. Specifically, SpSec3 physically interacts with For3 and sec3 mutants have no actin cables as a result of a failure to polarize this nucleating formin. SpSec3 also interacts with actin patch components and sec3 mutants have depolarized actin patches of reduced endocytic capacity. Finally, the constriction and disassembly of the cytokinetic actomyosin ring is compromised in these sec3 mutant cells. We propose that a role of SpSec3 is to spatially couple actin machineries and their independently polarized regulators. As a consequence of its dual role in secretion and actin organization, Sec3 appears as a major co-ordinator of cell morphology in fission yeast.
actin; endocytosis; exocyst; morphology; Schizosaccharomyces pombe
Polarized exocytosis plays a major role in development and cell differentiation but the mechanisms that target exocytosis to specific membrane domains in animal cells are still poorly understood. We characterized Drosophila Sec6, a component of the exocyst complex that is believed to tether secretory vesicles to specific plasma membrane sites. sec6 mutations cause cell lethality and disrupt plasma membrane growth. In developing photoreceptor cells (PRCs), Sec6 but not Sec5 or Sec8 shows accumulation at adherens junctions. In late PRCs, Sec6, Sec5, and Sec8 colocalize at the rhabdomere, the light sensing subdomain of the apical membrane. PRCs with reduced Sec6 function accumulate secretory vesicles and fail to transport proteins to the rhabdomere, but show normal localization of proteins to the apical stalk membrane and the basolateral membrane. Furthermore, we show that Rab11 forms a complex with Sec5 and that Sec5 interacts with Sec6 suggesting that the exocyst is a Rab11 effector that facilitates protein transport to the apical rhabdomere in Drosophila PRCs.
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.
Exocyst; Root growth; Meristem; Cell expansion; Auxin; Brassinosteroid
Although endocytosis and exocytosis have been extensively studied in budding yeast, there have been relatively few investigations of these complex processes in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Here we identify and characterize fission yeast Mug33, a novel Tea1-interacting protein, and show that Mug33 is involved in exocytosis. Mug33 is a Sur7/PalI-family transmembrane protein that localizes to the plasma membrane at the cell tips and to cytoplasmic tubulovesicular elements (TVEs). A subset of Mug33 TVEs make long-range movements along actin cables, co-translocating with subunits of the exocyst complex. TVE movement depends on the type V myosin Myo52. Although mug33Δ mutants are viable, with only a mild cell-polarity phenotype, mug33Δ myo52Δ double mutants are synthetically lethal. Combining mug33 Δ with deletion of the formin For3 (for3Δ) leads to synthetic temperature-sensitive growth and strongly reduced levels of exocytosis. Interestingly, mutants in non-essential genes involved in exocyst function behave in a manner similar to mug33Δ when combined with myo52Δ and for3Δ. By contrast, combining mug33Δ with mutants in non-essential exocyst genes has only minor effects on growth. We propose that Mug33 contributes to exocyst function and that actin cable-dependent vesicle transport and exocyst function have complementary roles in promoting efficient exocytosis in fission yeast.
Mug33; Actin filament; Schizosaccharomyces pombe; Sur7/PalI; Exocytosis; Fission yeast
During the extreme polarized growth of fungal hyphae, secretory vesicles are thought to accumulate in a subapical region called the Spitzenkörper. The human fungal pathogen Candida albicans can grow in a budding yeast or hyphal form. When it grows as hyphae, Mlc1 accumulates in a subapical spot suggestive of a Spitzenkörper-like structure, while the polarisome components Spa2 and Bud6 localize to a surface crescent. Here we show that the vesicle-associated protein Sec4 also localizes to a spot, confirming that secretory vesicles accumulate in the putative C. albicans Spitzenkörper. In contrast, exocyst components localize to a surface crescent. Using a combination of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) and fluorescence loss in photobleaching (FLIP) experiments and cytochalasin A to disrupt actin cables, we showed that Spitzenkörper-located proteins are highly dynamic. In contrast, exocyst and polarisome components are stably located at the cell surface. It is thought that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae exocyst components are transported to the cell surface on secretory vesicles along actin cables. If each vesicle carried its own complement of exocyst components, then it would be expected that exocyst components would be as dynamic as Sec4 and would have the same pattern of localization. This is not what we observe in C. albicans. We propose a model in which a stream of vesicles arrives at the tip and accumulates in the Spitzenkörper before onward delivery to the plasma membrane mediated by exocyst and polarisome components that are more stable residents of the cell surface.
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.
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.
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.
Schizosaccharomyces pombe cells divide by medial fission through the use of an actomyosin-based contractile ring. A mulitlayered division septum is assembled in concert with ring constriction. Finally, cleavage of the inner layer of the division septum results in the liberation of daughter cells. Although numerous studies have focused on actomyosin ring and division septum assembly, little information is available on the mechanism of cell separation. Here we describe a mutant, sec8-1, that is defective in cell separation but not in other aspects of cytokinesis. sec8-1 mutants accumulate ∼100-nm vesicles and have reduced secretion of acid phosphatase, suggesting that they are defective in exocytosis. Sec8p is a component of the exocyst complex. Using biochemical methods, we show that Sec8p physically interacts with other members of the exocyst complex, including Sec6p, Sec10p, and Exo70p. These exocyst proteins localize to regions of active exocytosis—at the growing ends of interphase cells and in the medial region of cells undergoing cytokinesis—in an F-actin–dependent and exocytosis-independent manner. Analysis of a number of mutations in various exocyst components has established that these components are essential for cell viability. Interestingly, all exocyst mutants analyzed appear to be able to elongate and to assemble division septa but are defective for cell separation. We therefore propose that the fission yeast exocyst is involved in targeting of enzymes responsible for septum cleavage. We further propose that cell elongation and division septum assembly can continue with minimal levels of exocyst function.
Protein translation and translocation at the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) are the first steps in the secretory pathway. The translocon through which newly-made proteins are translocated into or across the RER membrane, consists of three main subunits, Sec61α, β, and γ. Sec61β facilitates translocation, and we and others showed that the highly-conserved eight protein exocyst complex interacts with Sec61β. We also showed that the exocyst was involved in basolateral, and not apical, protein synthesis and delivery. Recently, however, exocyst involvement in apical protein delivery was reported. Furthermore, we showed that the exocyst was necessary for formation of primary cilia, organelles found on the apical surface.
GST pulldown was performed on lysate of renal tubule cells to investigate biochemical interactions. Cell-free assays consisting of cell-free extracts from rabbit reticulocytes, pancreatic ER microsomal membranes, transcripts of cDNA from apical and basolateral proteins, ATP/GTP, amino acids, and 35S-methionine for protein detection, were used to investigate the role of the exocyst in synthesis of polarized proteins. P32-orthophosphate and immunoprecipitation with antibody against Sec61β was used to investigate the Sec61β phosphorylation in exocyst Sec10-overexpressing cells.
Sec10 biochemically interacts with Sec61β using GST pulldown. Using cell-free assays, there is enhanced recruitment to ER membranes following exocyst depletion and basolateral VSVG protein translation, compared to apical HA protein translation. Finally, Sec10 overexpression increases Sec61β phosphorylation.
These data confirm that the exocyst is preferentially involved in basolateral protein translation and translocation, and may well act through the phosphorylation of Sec61β.
exocyst; polarity; translation; endoplasmic reticulum
The tumor suppressor lethal giant larvae (Lgl) plays a critical role in epithelial cell polarization. However, the molecular mechanism by which Lgl carries out its functions is unclear. In this study, we report that the yeast Lgl proteins Sro7p and Sro77p directly interact with Exo84p, which is a component of the exocyst complex that is essential for targeting vesicles to specific sites of the plasma membrane for exocytosis, and that this interaction is important for post-Golgi secretion. Genetic analyses demonstrate a molecular pathway from Rab and Rho GTPases through the exocyst and Lgl to SNAREs, which mediate membrane fusion. We also found that overexpression of Lgl and t-SNARE proteins not only improves exocytosis but also rescues polarity defects in exocyst mutants. We propose that, although Lgl is broadly distributed in the cells, its localized interaction with the exocyst and kinetic activation are important for the establishment and reenforcement of cell polarity.
The exocyst is an octameric protein complex implicated in tethering post-Golgi secretory vesicles at the plasma membrane in preparation for fusion. However, it is not clear how the exocyst is targeted to and physically associates with specific domains of the plasma membrane and how its functions are regulated at those regions. We demonstrate that the N terminus of the exocyst component Sec3 directly interacts with phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate. In addition, we have identified key residues in Sec3 that are critical for its binding to the guanosine triphosphate–bound form of Cdc42. Genetic analyses indicate that the dual interactions of Sec3 with phospholipids and Cdc42 control its function in yeast cells. Disrupting these interactions not only blocks exocytosis and affects exocyst polarization but also leads to defects in cell morphogenesis. We propose that the interactions of Sec3 with phospholipids and Cdc42 play important roles in exocytosis and polarized cell growth.
Sec3p is a component of the exocyst complex that tethers secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane at exocytic sites in preparation for fusion. Unlike all other exocyst structural genes, SEC3 is not essential for growth. Cells lacking Sec3p grow and secrete surprisingly well at 25°C; however, late markers of secretion, such as the vesicle marker Sec4p and the exocyst subunit Sec8p, localize more diffusely within the bud. Furthermore, sec3Δ cells are strikingly round relative to wild-type cells and are unable to form pointed mating projections in response to α factor. These phenotypes support the proposed role of Sec3p as a spatial landmark for secretion. We also find that cells lacking Sec3p exhibit a dramatic defect in the inheritance of cortical ER into the bud, whereas the inheritance of mitochondria and Golgi is unaffected. Overexpression of Sec3p results in a prominent patch of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) marker Sec61p-GFP at the bud tip. Cortical ER inheritance in yeast has been suggested to involve the capture of ER tubules at the bud tip. Sec3p may act in this process as a spatial landmark for cortical ER inheritance.
The 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.
The exocyst is an octameric protein complex required to tether secretory vesicles to exocytic sites and to retain ER tubules at the apical tip of budded cells. Unlike the other five exocyst genes, SEC3, SEC5, and EXO70 are not essential for growth or secretion when either the upstream activator rab, Sec4p, or the downstream SNARE-binding component, Sec1p, are overproduced. Analysis of the suppressed sec3Δ, sec5Δ, and exo70Δ strains demonstrates that the corresponding proteins confer differential effects on vesicle targeting and ER inheritance. Sec3p and Sec5p are more critical than Exo70p for ER inheritance. Although nonessential under these conditions, Sec3p, Sec5p, and Exo70p are still important for tethering, as in their absence the exocyst is only partially assembled. Sec1p overproduction results in increased SNARE complex levels, indicating a role in assembly or stabilization of SNARE complexes. Furthermore, a fraction of Sec1p can be coprecipitated with the exoycst. Our results suggest that Sec1p couples exocyst-mediated vesicle tethering with SNARE-mediated docking and fusion.
The exocyst is an essential protein complex required for targeting and fusion of secretory vesicles to sites of exocytosis at the plasma membrane. To study the function of the exocyst complex, we performed a structure-based mutational analysis of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae exocyst subunit Sec6p. Two “patches” of highly conserved residues are present on the surface of Sec6p; mutation of either patch does not compromise protein stability. Nevertheless, replacement of SEC6 with the patch mutants results in severe temperature-sensitive growth and secretion defects. At nonpermissive conditions, although trafficking of secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane is unimpaired, none of the exocyst subunits are polarized. This is consistent with data from other exocyst temperature-sensitive mutants, which disrupt the integrity of the complex. Surprisingly, however, these patch mutations result in mislocalized exocyst complexes that remain intact. Our results indicate that assembly and polarization of the exocyst are functionally separable events, and that Sec6p is required to anchor exocyst complexes at sites of secretion.
The exocyst complex 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.