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1.  Functional specialization within a vesicle tethering complex 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2004;167(5):875-887.
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.
PMCID: PMC2172455  PMID: 15583030
2.  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
3.  Rtn1p Is Involved in Structuring the Cortical Endoplasmic Reticulum 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(7):3009-3020.
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contains both cisternal and reticular elements in one contiguous structure. We identified rtn1Δ in a systematic screen for yeast mutants with altered ER morphology. The ER in rtn1Δ cells is predominantly cisternal rather than reticular, yet the net surface area of ER is not significantly changed. Rtn1-green fluorescent protein (GFP) associates with the reticular ER at the cell cortex and with the tubules that connect the cortical ER to the nuclear envelope, but not with the nuclear envelope itself. Rtn1p overexpression also results in an altered ER structure. Rtn proteins are found on the ER in a wide range of eukaryotes and are defined by two membrane-spanning domains flanking a conserved hydrophilic loop. Our results suggest that Rtn proteins may direct the formation of reticulated ER. We independently identified Rtn1p in a proteomic screen for proteins associated with the exocyst vesicle tethering complex. The conserved hydophilic loop of Rtn1p binds to the exocyst subunit Sec6p. Overexpression of this loop results in a modest accumulation of secretory vesicles, suggesting impaired exocyst function. The interaction of Rtn1p with the exocyst at the bud tip may trigger the formation of a cortical ER network in yeast buds.
PMCID: PMC1483037  PMID: 16624861
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  Vesicles carry most exocyst subunits to exocytic sites marked by the remaining two subunits, Sec3p and Exo70p 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2004;167(5):889-901.
Exocytosis in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae occurs at discrete domains of the plasma membrane. The protein complex that tethers incoming vesicles to sites of secretion is known as the exocyst. We have used photobleaching recovery experiments to characterize the dynamic behavior of the eight subunits that make up the exocyst. One subset (Sec5p, Sec6p, Sec8p, Sec10p, Sec15p, and Exo84p) exhibits mobility similar to that of the vesicle-bound Rab family protein Sec4p, whereas Sec3p and Exo70p exhibit substantially more stability. Disruption of actin assembly abolishes the ability of the first subset of subunits to recover after photobleaching, whereas Sec3p and Exo70p are resistant. Immunogold electron microscopy and epifluorescence video microscopy indicate that all exocyst subunits, except for Sec3p, are associated with secretory vesicles as they arrive at exocytic sites. Assembly of the exocyst occurs when the first subset of subunits, delivered on vesicles, joins Sec3p and Exo70p on the plasma membrane. Exocyst assembly serves to both target and tether vesicles to sites of exocytosis.
PMCID: PMC2172445  PMID: 15583031
9.  SEC24A deficiency lowers plasma cholesterol through reduced PCSK9 secretion 
eLife  2013;2:e00444.
The secretory pathway of eukaryotic cells packages cargo proteins into COPII-coated vesicles for transport from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the Golgi. We now report that complete genetic deficiency for the COPII component SEC24A is compatible with normal survival and development in the mouse, despite the fundamental role of SEC24 in COPII vesicle formation and cargo recruitment. However, these animals exhibit markedly reduced plasma cholesterol, with mutations in Apoe and Ldlr epistatic to Sec24a, suggesting a receptor-mediated lipoprotein clearance mechanism. Consistent with these data, hepatic LDLR levels are up-regulated in SEC24A-deficient cells as a consequence of specific dependence of PCSK9, a negative regulator of LDLR, on SEC24A for efficient exit from the ER. Our findings also identify partial overlap in cargo selectivity between SEC24A and SEC24B, suggesting a previously unappreciated heterogeneity in the recruitment of secretory proteins to the COPII vesicles that extends to soluble as well as trans-membrane cargoes.
eLife digest
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a structure that performs a variety of functions within eukaryotic cells. It can be divided into two regions: the surface of the rough ER is coated with ribosomes that manufacture various proteins, while the smooth ER is involved in activities such as lipid synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Proteins synthesized by the ribosomes attached to the rough ER are generally transferred to another structure within the cell, the Golgi apparatus, where they undergo further processing and packaging before being secreted or transported to another location within the cell.
Proteins are shuttled from the ER to the Golgi apparatus by vesicles covered with coat protein complex II (COPII). This complex is composed of an inner and outer coat, each of which is assembled primarily with two different SEC proteins: the SEC23/SEC24 protein heterodimer forms the inner coat of the COPII vesicle, and plays a key role in recruiting the appropriate protein cargos to the transport vesicle, while the SEC13/SEC31 protein heterotetramer forms the outer coat and is generally responsible for regulating vesicle size and rigidity.
Previous work found that mammals, including humans and mice, harbor multiple copies of several SEC protein genes, including two copies of SEC23 and four copies of SEC24. Both copies of SEC23 are derived from the same ancestral gene, and all four copies of SEC24 are derived from a different ancestral gene, and the availability of these copies potentially expands the range of properties that the vesicles can have. Insight into the roles of each SEC protein has come from work with SEC mutants. For example, a mutation in SEC23A was found to cause skeletal abnormalities in humans.
Here, Chen et al. report the results of experiments which showed that mice with an inactive Sec24a gene could develop normally. However, these mice experienced a 45% reduction in their plasma cholesterol levels because they were not able to recruit and transport a secretory protein called PCSK9, which is a critical regulator of blood cholesterol levels.
The work of Chen et al. reveals a previously unappreciated complexity in the recruitment of secretory proteins to the COPII vesicle and suggests that the various combinations of SEC proteins influence the proteins selected for transport to the Golgi apparatus. The work also identifies Sec24a as a potential therapeutic target for the reduction of plasma cholesterol, a finding that could be of interest to researchers working on heart disease and other conditions exacerbated by high cholesterol.
PMCID: PMC3622177  PMID: 23580231
Secretory pathway; COP II; Cholesterol metabolism; Mouse
10.  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
11.  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
12.  Exocyst Sec10 is Involved in Basolateral Protein Translation and Translocation in the Endoplasmic Reticulum 
Nephron. Experimental nephrology  2012;120(4):e134-e140.
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.
PMCID: PMC3740206  PMID: 23037926
exocyst; polarity; translation; endoplasmic reticulum
13.  Fission Yeast Sec3 and Exo70 Are Transported on Actin Cables and Localize the Exocyst Complex to Cell Poles 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e40248.
The exocyst complex is essential for many exocytic events, by tethering vesicles at the plasma membrane for fusion. In fission yeast, polarized exocytosis for growth relies on the combined action of the exocyst at cell poles and myosin-driven transport along actin cables. We report here the identification of fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe Sec3 protein, which we identified through sequence homology of its PH-like domain. Like other exocyst subunits, sec3 is required for secretion and cell division. Cells deleted for sec3 are only conditionally lethal and can proliferate when osmotically stabilized. Sec3 is redundant with Exo70 for viability and for the localization of other exocyst subunits, suggesting these components act as exocyst tethers at the plasma membrane. Consistently, Sec3 localizes to zones of growth independently of other exocyst subunits but depends on PIP2 and functional Cdc42. FRAP analysis shows that Sec3, like all other exocyst subunits, localizes to cell poles largely independently of the actin cytoskeleton. However, we show that Sec3, Exo70 and Sec5 are transported by the myosin V Myo52 along actin cables. These data suggest that the exocyst holocomplex, including Sec3 and Exo70, is present on exocytic vesicles, which can reach cell poles by either myosin-driven transport or random walk.
PMCID: PMC3386988  PMID: 22768263
14.  The role of Sec3p in secretory vesicle targeting and exocyst complex assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(23):3813-3822.
The exocyst has been speculated to mediate the tethering of secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane. However, there has been no direct experimental evidence for this notion. An ectopic targeting strategy is used to provide experimental support for this model and investigate the regulators of exocyst assembly and vesicle targeting.
During membrane trafficking, vesicular carriers are transported and tethered to their cognate acceptor compartments before soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein (SNARE)-mediated membrane fusion. The exocyst complex was believed to target and tether post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane during exocytosis. However, no definitive experimental evidence is available to support this notion. We developed an ectopic targeting assay in yeast in which each of the eight exocyst subunits was expressed on the surface of mitochondria. We find that most of the exocyst subunits were able to recruit the other members of the complex there, and mistargeting of the exocyst led to secretion defects in cells. On the other hand, only the ectopically located Sec3p subunit is capable of recruiting secretory vesicles to mitochondria. Our assay also suggests that both cytosolic diffusion and cytoskeleton-based transport mediate the recruitment of exocyst subunits and secretory vesicles during exocytosis. In addition, the Rab GTPase Sec4p and its guanine nucleotide exchange factor Sec2p regulate the assembly of the exocyst complex. Our study helps to establish the role of the exocyst subunits in tethering and allows the investigation of the mechanisms that regulate vesicle tethering during exocytosis.
PMCID: PMC4230786  PMID: 25232005
15.  Characterization of a component of the yeast secretion machinery: identification of the SEC18 gene product. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1988;8(10):4098-4109.
SEC18 gene function is required for secretory protein transport between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the Golgi complex. We cloned the SEC18 gene by complementation of the sec18-1 mutation. Gene disruption has shown that SEC18 is essential for yeast cell growth. Sequence analysis of the gene revealed a 2,271-base-pair open reading frame which could code for a protein of 83.9 kilodaltons. The predicted protein sequence showed no significant similarity to other known protein sequences. In vitro transcription and translation of SEC18 led to the synthesis of two proteins of approximately 84 and 82 kilodaltons. Antisera raised against a Sec18-beta-galactosidase fusion protein also detected two proteins (collectively referred to as Sec18p) in extracts of 35S-labeled yeast cells identical in size to those seen by in vitro translation. Mapping of the 5' end of the SEC18 mRNA revealed only one major start site for transcription, which indicates that the multiple forms of Sec18p do not arise from mRNAs with different 5' ends. Results of pulse-chase experiments indicated that the two forms of Sec18p are not the result of posttranslational processing. We suggest that translation initiating at different in-frame AUG start codons is likely to account for the presence of two forms of Sec18p. Hydrophobicity analysis indicated that the proteins were hydrophilic in nature and lacked any region that would be predicted to serve as a signal sequence or transmembrane anchor. Although potential sites for N-linked glycosylation were present in the Sec18p sequence, the sizes of the in vivo SEC18 gene products were unaffected by the drug tunicamycin, indicating that Sec18p does not enter the secretory pathway. These results suggest that Sec18p resides in the cell cytoplasm. While preliminary cell fractionation studies showed that Sec18p is not associated with the ER or Golgi complex, association with a 100,000 x g pellet fraction was observed. This suggests that Sec18p may bind transiently to small vesicles such as those presumed to participate in secretory protein transport between ER and the Golgi complex.
PMCID: PMC365479  PMID: 3054509
16.  High-Copy Suppressor Analysis Reveals a Physical Interaction between Sec34p and Sec35p, a Protein Implicated in Vesicle Docking 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1999;10(10):3317-3329.
A temperature-sensitive mutant, sec34-2, is defective in the late stages of endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-to-Golgi transport. A high-copy suppressor screen that uses the sec34-2 mutant has resulted in the identification of the SEC34 structural gene and a novel gene called GRP1. GRP1 encodes a previously unidentified hydrophilic yeast protein related to the mammalian Golgi protein golgin-160. Although GRP1 is not essential for growth, the grp1Δ mutation displays synthetic lethal interactions with several mutations that result in ER accumulation and a block in the late stages of ER-to-Golgi transport, but not with those that block the budding of vesicles from the ER. Our findings suggest that Grp1p may facilitate membrane traffic indirectly, possibly by maintaining Golgi function. In an effort to identify genes whose products physically interact with Sec34p, we also tested the ability of overexpressed SEC34 to suppress known secretory mutations that block vesicular traffic between the ER and the Golgi. This screen revealed that SEC34 specifically suppresses sec35-1. SEC34 encodes a hydrophilic protein of ∼100 kDa. Like Sec35p, which has been implicated in the tethering of ER-derived vesicles to the Golgi, Sec34p is predominantly soluble. Sec34p and Sec35p stably associate with each other to form a multiprotein complex of ∼480 kDa. These data indicate that Sec34p acts in conjunction with Sec35p to mediate a common step in vesicular traffic.
PMCID: PMC25597  PMID: 10512869
17.  ALG-2 Attenuates COPII Budding In Vitro and Stabilizes the Sec23/Sec31A Complex 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75309.
Coated vesicles mediate the traffic of secretory and membrane cargo proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the Golgi apparatus. The coat protein complex (COPII) involved in vesicle budding is constituted by a GTPase, Sar1, the inner coat components of Sec23/Sec24 and the components of the outer coat Sec13/Sec31A. The Ca2+-binding protein ALG-2 was recently identified as a Sec31A binding partner and a possible link to Ca2+ regulation of COPII vesicle budding. Here we show that ALG-2/Ca2+ is capable of attenuating vesicle budding in vitro through interaction with an ALG-2 binding domain in the proline rich region of Sec31A. Binding of ALG-2 to Sec31A and inhibition of COPII vesicle budding is furthermore dependent on an intact Ca2+-binding site at EF-hand 1 of ALG-2. ALG-2 increased recruitment of COPII proteins Sec23/24 and Sec13/31A to artificial liposomes and was capable of mediating binding of Sec13/31A to Sec23. These results introduce a regulatory role for ALG-2/Ca2+ in COPII tethering and vesicle budding.
PMCID: PMC3777911  PMID: 24069399
18.  Sec3p is involved in secretion and morphogenesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1997;8(4):647-662.
Two new temperature-sensitive alleles of SEC3, 1 of 10 late-acting SEC genes required for targeting or fusion of post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, were isolated in a screen for temperature-sensitive secretory mutants that are synthetically lethal with sec4-8. The new sec3 alleles affect early as well as late stages of secretion. Cloning and sequencing of the SEC3 gene revealed that it is identical to profilin synthetic lethal 1 (PSL1). The SEC3 gene is not essential because cells depleted of Sec3p are viable although slow growing and temperature sensitive. All of the sec3 alleles genetically interact with a profilin mutation, pfy1-111. The SEC3 gene in high copy suppresses pfy1-111 and sec5-24 and causes synthetic growth defects with ypt1, sec8-9, sec10-2, and sec15-1. Actin structure is only perturbed in conditions of chronic loss of Sec3p function, implying that Sec3p does not directly regulate actin. All alleles of sec3 cause bud site selection defects in homozygous diploids, as do sec4-8 and sec9-4. This suggests that SEC gene products are involved in determining the bud site and is consistent with a role for Sec3p in determining the correct site of exocytosis.
PMCID: PMC276116  PMID: 9247645
19.  Secretion of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Killer Toxin: Processing of the Glycosylated Precursor 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1983;3(8):1362-1370.
Killer toxin secretion was blocked at the restrictive temperature in Saccharomyces cerevisiae sec mutants with conditional defects in the S. cerevisiae secretory pathway leading to accumulation of endoplasmic reticulum (sec18), Golgi (sec7), or secretory vesicles (sec1). A 43,000-molecular-weight (43K) glycosylated protoxin was found by pulse-labeling in all sec mutants at the restrictive temperature. In sec18 the protoxin was stable after a chase; but in sec7 and sec1 the protoxin was unstable, and in sec1 11K toxin was detected in cell lysates. The chymotrypsin inhibitor tosyl-l-phenylalanyl chloromethyl ketone (TPCK) blocked toxin secretion in vivo in wild-type cells by inhibiting protoxin cleavage. The unstable protoxin in wild-type and in sec7 and sec1 cells at the restrictive temperature was stabilized by TPCK, suggesting that the protoxin cleavage was post-sec18 and was mediated by a TPCK-inhibitable protease. Protoxin glycosylation was inhibited by tunicamycin, and a 36K protoxin was detected in inhibited cells. This 36K protoxin was processed, but toxin secretion was reduced 10-fold. We examined two kex mutants defective in toxin secretion; both synthesized a 43K protoxin, which was stable in kex1 but unstable in kex2. Protoxin stability in kex1 kex2 double mutants indicated the order kex1 → kex2 in the protoxin processing pathway. TPCK did not block protoxin instability in kex2 mutants. This suggested that the KEX1- and KEX2-dependent steps preceded the sec7 Golgi block. We attempted to localize the protoxin in S. cerevisiae cells. Use of an in vitro rabbit reticulocyte-dog pancreas microsomal membrane system indicated that protoxin synthesized in vitro could be inserted into and glycosylated by the microsomal membranes. This membrane-associated protoxin was protected from trypsin proteolysis. Pulse-chased cells or spheroplasts, with or without TPCK, failed to secrete protoxin. The protoxin may not be secreted into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum, but may remain membrane associated and may require endoproteolytic cleavage for toxin secretion.
PMCID: PMC369982  PMID: 6353202
20.  The Role of the Cooh Terminus of Sec2p in the Transport of Post-Golgi Vesicles 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2000;149(1):95-110.
Sec2p is required for the polarized transport of secretory vesicles in S. cerevisiae. The Sec2p NH2 terminus encodes an exchange factor for the Rab protein Sec4p. Sec2p associates with vesicles and in Sec2p COOH-terminal mutants Sec4p and vesicles no longer accumulate at bud tips. Thus, the Sec2p COOH terminus functions in targeting vesicles, however, the mechanism of function is unknown. We found comparable exchange activity for truncated and full-length Sec2 proteins, implying that the COOH terminus does not alter the exchange rate. Full-length Sec2-GFP, similar to Sec4p, concentrates at bud tips. A COOH-terminal 58–amino acid domain is necessary but not sufficient for localization. Sec2p localization depends on actin, Myo2p and Sec1p, Sec6p, and Sec9p function. Full-length, but not COOH-terminally truncated Sec2 proteins are enriched on membranes. Membrane association of full-length Sec2p is reduced in sec6-4 and sec9-4 backgrounds at 37°C but unaffected at 25°C. Taken together, these data correlate loss of localization of Sec2 proteins with reduced membrane association. In addition, Sec2p membrane attachment is substantially Sec4p independent, supporting the notion that Sec2p interacts with membranes via an unidentified Sec2p receptor, which would increase the accessibility of Sec2p exchange activity for Sec4p.
PMCID: PMC2175086  PMID: 10747090
transport; exchange factor; yeast; Rab; vesicles
21.  p125A exists as part of the mammalian Sec13/Sec31 COPII subcomplex to facilitate ER-Golgi transport 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2010;190(3):331-345.
p125A is an accessory protein for COPII-mediated vesicle budding that links the Sec13/Sec31 and Sec23/24 subcomplexes.
Coat protein II (COPII)–mediated export from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) involves sequential recruitment of COPII complex components, including the Sar1 GTPase, the Sec23/Sec24 subcomplex, and the Sec13/Sec31 subcomplex. p125A was originally identified as a Sec23A-interacting protein. Here we demonstrate that p125A also interacts with the C-terminal region of Sec31A. The Sec31A-interacting domain of p125A is between residues 260–600, and is therefore a distinct domain from that required for interaction with Sec23A. Gel filtration and immunodepletion studies suggest that the majority of cytosolic p125A exists as a ternary complex with the Sec13/Sec31A subcomplex, suggesting that Sec 13, Sec31A, and p125A exist in the cytosol primarily as preassembled Sec13/Sec31A/p125A heterohexamers. Golgi morphology and protein export from the ER were affected in p125A-silenced cells. Our results suggest that p125A is part of the Sec13/Sec31A subcomplex and facilitates ER export in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC2922642  PMID: 20679433
22.  Study of the Plant COPII Vesicle Coat Subunits by Functional Complementation of Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mutants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90072.
The formation and budding of endoplasmic reticulum ER-derived vesicles depends on the COPII coat protein complex that was first identified in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The ER-associated Sec12 and the Sar1 GTPase initiate the COPII coat formation by recruiting the Sec23–Sec24 heterodimer following the subsequent recruitment of the Sec13–Sec31 heterotetramer. In yeast, there is usually one gene encoding each COPII protein and these proteins are essential for yeast viability, whereas the plant genome encodes multiple isoforms of all COPII subunits. Here, we used a systematic yeast complementation assay to assess the functionality of Arabidopsis thaliana COPII proteins. In this study, the different plant COPII subunits were expressed in their corresponding temperature-sensitive yeast mutant strain to complement their thermosensitivity and secretion phenotypes. Secretion was assessed using two different yeast cargos: the soluble α-factor pheromone and the membranous v-SNARE (vesicle-soluble NSF (N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor) attachment protein receptor) Snc1 involved in the fusion of the secretory vesicles with the plasma membrane. This complementation study allowed the identification of functional A. thaliana COPII proteins for the Sec12, Sar1, Sec24 and Sec13 subunits that could represent an active COPII complex in plant cells. Moreover, we found that AtSec12 and AtSec23 were co-immunoprecipitated with AtSar1 in total cell extract of 15 day-old seedlings of A. thaliana. This demonstrates that AtSar1, AtSec12 and AtSec23 can form a protein complex that might represent an active COPII complex in plant cells.
PMCID: PMC3934973  PMID: 24587212
23.  Ypt32 recruits the Sec4p guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Sec2p, to secretory vesicles; evidence for a Rab cascade in yeast 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2002;157(6):1005-1016.
SEC2 is an essential gene required for polarized growth of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It encodes a protein of 759 amino acids that functions as a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the small GTPase Sec4p, a regulator of Golgi to plasma membrane transport. Activation of Sec4p by Sec2p is needed for polarized transport of vesicles to exocytic sites. Temperature-sensitive (ts) mutations in sec2 and sec4 result in a tight block in secretion and the accumulation of secretory vesicles randomly distributed in the cell. The proper localization of Sec2p to secretory vesicles is essential for its function and is largely independent of Sec4p. Although the ts mutation sec2-78 does not affect nucleotide exchange activity, the protein is mislocalized. Here we present evidence that Ypt31/32p, members of Rab family of GTPases, regulate Sec2p function. First, YPT31/YPT32 suppress the sec2-78 mutation. Second, overexpression of Ypt31/32p restores localization of Sec2-78p. Third, Ypt32p and Sec2p interact biochemically, but Sec2p has no exchange activity on Ypt32p. We propose that Ypt32p and Sec4p act as part of a signaling cascade in which Ypt32p recruits Sec2p to secretory vesicles; once on the vesicle, Sec2p activates Sec4p, enabling the polarized transport of vesicles to the plasma membrane.
PMCID: PMC2174052  PMID: 12045183
membrane traffic; Ypt31/32; exchange factor; Rab; yeast
24.  Developmentally distinct activities of the exocyst enable rapid cell elongation and determine meristem size during primary root growth in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):386.
Exocytosis is integral to root growth: trafficking components of systems that control growth (e.g., PIN auxin transport proteins) to the plasma membrane, and secreting materials that expand the cell wall to the apoplast. Spatiotemporal regulation of exocytosis in eukaryotes often involves the exocyst, an octameric complex that tethers selected secretory vesicles to specific sites on the plasma membrane and facilitates their exocytosis. We evaluated Arabidopsis lines with mutations in four exocyst components (SEC5, SEC8, EXO70A1 and EXO84B) to explore exocyst function in primary root growth.
The mutants have root growth rates that are 82% to 11% of wild-type. Even in lines with the most severe defects, the organization of the quiescent center and tissue layers at the root tips appears similar to wild-type, although meristematic, transition, and elongation zones are shorter. Reduced cell production rates in the mutants are due to the shorter meristems, but not to lengthened cell cycles. Additionally, mutants demonstrate reduced anisotropic cell expansion in the elongation zone, but not the meristematic zone, resulting in shorter mature cells that are similar in shape to wild-type. As expected, hypersensitivity to brefeldin A links the mutant root growth defect to altered vesicular trafficking. Several experimental approaches (e.g., dose–response measurements, localization of signaling components) failed to identify aberrant auxin or brassinosteroid signaling as a primary driver for reduced root growth in exocyst mutants.
The exocyst participates in two spatially distinct developmental processes, apparently by mechanisms not directly linked to auxin or brassinosteroid signaling pathways, to help establish root meristem size, and to facilitate rapid cell expansion in the elongation zone.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0386-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4302519  PMID: 25551204
Exocyst; Root growth; Meristem; Cell expansion; Auxin; Brassinosteroid
25.  Evolution of the Land Plant Exocyst Complexes 
Exocyst is an evolutionarily conserved vesicle tethering complex functioning especially in the last stage of exocytosis. Homologs of its eight canonical subunits – Sec3, Sec5, Sec6, Sec8, Sec10, Sec15, Exo70, and Exo84 – were found also in higher plants and confirmed to form complexes in vivo, and to participate in cell growth including polarized expansion of pollen tubes and root hairs. Here we present results of a phylogenetic study of land plant exocyst subunits encoded by a selection of completely sequenced genomes representing a variety of plant, mostly angiosperm, lineages. According to their evolution histories, plant exocyst subunits can be divided into several groups. The core subunits Sec6, Sec8, and Sec10, together with Sec3 and Sec5, underwent few, if any fixed duplications in the tracheophytes (though they did amplify in the moss Physcomitrella patens), while others form larger families, with the number of paralogs ranging typically from two to eight per genome (Sec15, Exo84) to several dozens per genome (Exo70). Most of the diversity, which can be in some cases traced down to the origins of land plants, can be attributed to the peripheral subunits Exo84 and, in particular, Exo70. As predicted previously, early land plants (including possibly also the Rhyniophytes) encoded three ancestral Exo70 paralogs which further diversified in the course of land plant evolution. Our results imply that plants do not have a single “Exocyst complex” – instead, they appear to possess a diversity of exocyst variants unparalleled among other organisms studied so far. This feature might perhaps be directly related to the demands of building and maintenance of the complicated and spatially diverse structures of the endomembranes and cell surfaces in multicellular land plants.
PMCID: PMC3399122  PMID: 22826714
exocyst; phylogeny; land plants; co-evolution; gene duplication

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