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1.  Regulation of exocytosis by the exocyst subunit Sec6 and the SM protein Sec1 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(2):337-346.
The Sec6 subunit of the multisubunit exocyst tethering complex interacts with the Sec1/Munc18 protein Sec1 and with the t-SNARE Sec9. Assembly of the exocyst upon vesicle arrival at sites of secretion is proposed to release Sec9 for SNARE complex assembly and to recruit Sec1 for interaction with SNARE complexes to facilitate fusion.
Trafficking of protein and lipid cargo through the secretory pathway in eukaryotic cells is mediated by membrane-bound vesicles. Secretory vesicle targeting and fusion require a conserved multisubunit protein complex termed the exocyst, which has been implicated in specific tethering of vesicles to sites of polarized exocytosis. The exocyst is directly involved in regulating soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor (NSF) attachment protein receptor (SNARE) complexes and membrane fusion through interactions between the Sec6 subunit and the plasma membrane SNARE protein Sec9. Here we show another facet of Sec6 function—it directly binds Sec1, another SNARE regulator, but of the Sec1/Munc18 family. The Sec6–Sec1 interaction is exclusive of Sec6–Sec9 but compatible with Sec6–exocyst assembly. In contrast, the Sec6–exocyst interaction is incompatible with Sec6–Sec9. Therefore, upon vesicle arrival, Sec6 is proposed to release Sec9 in favor of Sec6–exocyst assembly and to simultaneously recruit Sec1 to sites of secretion for coordinated SNARE complex formation and membrane fusion.
PMCID: PMC3258177  PMID: 22114349
2.  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.  An association between type Iγ PI4P 5-kinase and Exo70 directs E-cadherin clustering and epithelial polarization 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(1):87-98.
Type Iγ phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate 5-kinase and Exo70 cooperate in the directed targeting of E-cadherin on the plasma membrane to newly formed adherens junctions. This promotes the regional accumulation of E-cadherin, expansion and maturation of adherens junctions, and differentiation of the lateral membrane domain.
E-Cadherin–mediated formation of adherens junctions (AJs) is essential for the morphogenesis of epithelial cells. However, the mechanisms underlying E-cadherin clustering and AJ maturation are not fully understood. Here we report that type Iγ phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate 5-kinase (PIPKIγ) associates with the exocyst via a direct interaction with Exo70, the exocyst subunit that guides the polarized targeting of exocyst to the plasma membrane. By means of this interaction, PIPKIγ mediates the association between E-cadherin and Exo70 and determines the targeting of Exo70 to AJs. Further investigation revealed that Exo70 is necessary for clustering of E-cadherin on the plasma membrane and extension of nascent E-cadherin adhesions, which are critical for the maturation of cohesive AJs. In addition, we observed phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PI4,5P2) accumulation at E-cadherin clusters during the assembly of E-cadherin adhesions. PIPKIγ-generated PI4,5P2 is required for recruiting Exo70 to newly formed E-cadherin junctions and facilitates the assembly and maturation of AJs. These results support a model in which PIPKIγ and PIPKIγ-generated PI4,5P2 pools at nascent E-cadherin contacts cue Exo70 targeting and orient the tethering of exocyst-associated E-cadherin. This could be an important mechanism that regulates E-cadherin clustering and AJ maturation, which is essential for the establishment of solid, polarized epithelial structures.
PMCID: PMC3248907  PMID: 22049025
4.  Live-cell imaging of exocyst links its spatiotemporal dynamics to various stages of vesicle fusion 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;201(5):673-680.
Live-cell imaging of the exocyst subunit Sec8 reveals how the protein’s spatiotemporal dynamics correlate with its roles in vesicle fusion.
Tethers play ubiquitous roles in membrane trafficking and influence the specificity of vesicle attachment. Unlike soluble N-ethyl-maleimide–sensitive fusion attachment protein receptors (SNAREs), the spatiotemporal dynamics of tethers relative to vesicle fusion are poorly characterized. The most extensively studied tethering complex is the exocyst, which spatially targets vesicles to sites on the plasma membrane. By using a mammalian genetic replacement strategy, we were able to assemble fluorescently tagged Sec8 into the exocyst complex, which was shown to be functional by biochemical, trafficking, and morphological criteria. Ultrasensitive live-cell imaging revealed that Sec8-TagRFP moved to the cell cortex on vesicles, which preferentially originated from the endocytic recycling compartment. Surprisingly, Sec8 remained with vesicles until full dilation of the fusion pore, supporting potential coupling with SNARE fusion machinery. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching analysis of Sec8 at cell protrusions revealed that a significant fraction was immobile. Additionally, Sec8 dynamically repositioned to the site of membrane expansion, suggesting that it may respond to local cues during early cell polarization.
PMCID: PMC3664709  PMID: 23690179
5.  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
6.  Mechanism of recruiting Sec6/8 (exocyst) complex to the apical junctional complex during polarization of epithelial cells 
Journal of Cell Science  2004;117(Pt 4):559-570.
Sec6/8 (exocyst) complex regulates vesicle delivery and polarized membrane growth in a variety of cells, but mechanisms regulating Sec6/8 localization are unknown. In epithelial cells, Sec6/8 complex is recruited to cell-cell contacts with a mixture of junctional proteins, but then sorts out to the apex of the lateral membrane with components of tight junction and nectin complexes. Sec6/8 complex fractionates in a high molecular mass complex with tight junction proteins and a portion of E-cadherin, and co-immunoprecipitates with cell surface-labeled E-cadherin and nectin-2α. Recruitment of Sec6/8 complex to cell-cell contacts can be achieved in fibroblasts when E-cadherin and nectin-2α are co-expressed. These results support a model in which localized recruitment of Sec6/8 complex to the plasma membrane by specific cell-cell adhesion complexes defines a site for vesicle delivery and polarized membrane growth during development of epithelial cell polarity.
PMCID: PMC3368615  PMID: 14709721
Cell polarity; Cell membrane; Intercellular junctions; Intracellular membranes; Metabolism
7.  The role of Sec3p in secretory vesicle targeting and exocyst complex assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(23):3813-3822.
The exocyst has been speculated to mediate the tethering of secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane. However, there has been no direct experimental evidence for this notion. An ectopic targeting strategy is used to provide experimental support for this model and investigate the regulators of exocyst assembly and vesicle targeting.
During membrane trafficking, vesicular carriers are transported and tethered to their cognate acceptor compartments before soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein (SNARE)-mediated membrane fusion. The exocyst complex was believed to target and tether post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane during exocytosis. However, no definitive experimental evidence is available to support this notion. We developed an ectopic targeting assay in yeast in which each of the eight exocyst subunits was expressed on the surface of mitochondria. We find that most of the exocyst subunits were able to recruit the other members of the complex there, and mistargeting of the exocyst led to secretion defects in cells. On the other hand, only the ectopically located Sec3p subunit is capable of recruiting secretory vesicles to mitochondria. Our assay also suggests that both cytosolic diffusion and cytoskeleton-based transport mediate the recruitment of exocyst subunits and secretory vesicles during exocytosis. In addition, the Rab GTPase Sec4p and its guanine nucleotide exchange factor Sec2p regulate the assembly of the exocyst complex. Our study helps to establish the role of the exocyst subunits in tethering and allows the investigation of the mechanisms that regulate vesicle tethering during exocytosis.
PMCID: PMC4230786  PMID: 25232005
8.  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
9.  Plakophilin 3 mediates Rap1-dependent desmosome assembly and adherens junction maturation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(23):3749-3764.
Desmosomal Armadillo family member Pkp3 is established as a coordinator of desmosome and adherens junction assembly and maturation through its physical and functional association with Rap1. It thus functions in a manner distinct from the closely related Pkp2.
The pathways driving desmosome and adherens junction assembly are temporally and spatially coordinated, but how they are functionally coupled is poorly understood. Here we show that the Armadillo protein plakophilin 3 (Pkp3) mediates both desmosome assembly and E-cadherin maturation through Rap1 GTPase, thus functioning in a manner distinct from the closely related plakophilin 2 (Pkp2). Whereas Pkp2 and Pkp3 share the ability to mediate the initial phase of desmoplakin (DP) accumulation at sites of cell–cell contact, they play distinct roles in later steps: Pkp3 is required for assembly of a cytoplasmic population of DP-enriched junction precursors, whereas Pkp2 is required for transfer of the precursors to the membrane. Moreover, Pkp3 forms a complex with Rap1 GTPase, promoting its activation and facilitating desmosome assembly. We show further that Pkp3 deficiency causes disruption of an E-cadherin/Rap1 complex required for adherens junction sealing. These findings reveal Pkp3 as a coordinator of desmosome and adherens junction assembly and maturation through its functional association with Rap1.
PMCID: PMC4230782  PMID: 25208567
10.  The Exocyst Protein Sec10 Is Necessary for Primary Ciliogenesis and Cystogenesis In Vitro 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(10):2522-2529.
Primary cilia are found on many epithelial cell types, including renal tubular epithelial cells, in which they are felt to participate in flow sensing and have been linked to the pathogenesis of cystic renal disorders such as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. We previously localized the exocyst, an eight-protein complex involved in membrane trafficking, to the primary cilium of Madin-Darby canine kidney cells and showed that it was involved in cystogenesis. Here, using short hairpin RNA (shRNA) to knockdown exocyst expression and stable transfection to induce exocyst overexpression, we show that the exocyst protein Sec10 regulates primary ciliogenesis. Using immunofluorescence, scanning, and transmission electron microscopy, primary cilia containing only basal bodies are seen in the Sec10 knockdown cells, and increased ciliogenesis is seen in Sec10-overexpressing cells. These phenotypes do not seem to be because of gross changes in cell polarity, as apical, basolateral, and tight junction proteins remain properly localized. Sec10 knockdown prevents normal cyst morphogenesis when the cells are grown in a collagen matrix, whereas Sec10 overexpression results in increased cystogenesis. Transfection with human Sec10 resistant to the canine shRNA rescues the phenotype, demonstrating specificity. Finally, Par3 was recently shown to regulate primary cilia biogenesis. Par3 and the exocyst colocalized by immunofluorescence and coimmunoprecipitation, consistent with a role for the exocyst in targeting and docking vesicles carrying proteins necessary for primary ciliogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2682593  PMID: 19297529
11.  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
12.  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
13.  RhoGDI3 and RhoG 
Small GTPases  2010;1(3):142-156.
RhoGDIs are negative regulators of small GTP-binding proteins of the Rho family, which have essential cellular functions in most aspects of actin-based morphology and motility processes. They extract Rho proteins from membranes, keep them in inactive rhoGDI/Rho complexes and eventually deliver them again to specific membranes in response to cellular signals. RhoGDI3, the most divergent member of the rhoGDI family, is well suited to document the underlying molecular mechanisms, since the active and inactive forms of its cellular target, RhoG, have well-separated subcellular localizations. In this study, we investigate trafficking structures and molecular interactions involved in rhoGDI3-mediated shuttling of RhoG between the Golgi and the plasma membrane.
Bimolecular fluorescence complementation and acceptor-photobleaching FRET experiments suggest that rhoGDI3 and RhoG form complexes on Golgi and vesicular structures in mammalian cells. 4D-videomicroscopy confirms this localization, and show that RhoG/rhoGDI3-labelled structures are less dynamic than RhoG and rhoGDI3-labeled vesicles, consistent with the inhibitory function of rhoGDI3. Next, we identify the Exocyst subunit Sec3 as a candidate rhoGDI3 partner in cells. RhoGDI3 relocates a subcomplex of the Exocyst (Sec3 and Sec8) from the cytoplasm to the Golgi, while Sec6 is unaffected. Remarkably, Sec3 increases the level of GTP-bound endogenous RhoG, the RhoG-dependent induction of membrane ruffles, and the formation of intercellular tunneling nanotube-like protrusions.
Altogether, our study identifies a novel link between vesicular traffic and the regulation of Rho proteins by rhoGDIs. It also suggests that components of the Exocyst machinery may be involved in RhoG functions, possibly regulated by rhoGDI3.
PMCID: PMC3116606  PMID: 21686268
RhoGDI; RhoGDI3; guanine nucleotide dissociation inhibitor; Rho; RhoG; small GTPase; Exocyst; Sec3; Sec6; Sec8; vesicular traffic; membrane protrusions; tunneling nanotubes; videomicroscopy; bimolecular fluorescence complementation
14.  The Desmosome 
Desmosomes are intercellular junctions that tether intermediate filaments to the plasma membrane. Desmogleins and desmocollins, members of the cadherin superfamily, mediate adhesion at desmosomes. Cytoplasmic components of the desmosome associate with the desmosomal cadherin tails through a series of protein interactions, which serve to recruit intermediate filaments to sites of desmosome assembly. These desmosomal plaque components include plakoglobin and the plakophilins, members of the armadillo gene family. Linkage to the cytoskeleton is mediated by the intermediate filament binding protein, desmoplakin, which associates with both plakoglobin and plakophilins. Although desmosomes are critical for maintaining stable cell–cell adhesion, emerging evidence indicates that they are also dynamic structures that contribute to cellular processes beyond that of cell adhesion. This article outlines the structure and function of the major desmosomal proteins, and explores the contributions of this protein complex to tissue architecture and morphogenesis.
Desmosomal proteins link neighboring cells and are anchored to intermediate filaments. They are essential for stable adhesion and play important roles in morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2742091  PMID: 20066089
15.  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
16.  The Neurospora crassa exocyst complex tethers Spitzenkörper vesicles to the apical plasma membrane during polarized growth 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(8):1312-1326.
The Neurospora crassa exocyst presents two distinct localization patterns. EXO-70 and -84 colocalize with a region of the Spitzenkörper occupied by secretory macrovesicles. In contrast, SEC-3, -5, -6, -8, and -15 localize distinctively at the apical plasma membrane.
Fungal hyphae are among the most highly polarized cells. Hyphal polarized growth is supported by tip-directed transport of secretory vesicles, which accumulate temporarily in a stratified manner in an apical vesicle cluster, the Spitzenkörper. The exocyst complex is required for tethering of secretory vesicles to the apical plasma membrane. We determined that the presence of an octameric exocyst complex is required for the formation of a functional Spitzenkörper and maintenance of regular hyphal growth in Neurospora crassa. Two distinct localization patterns of exocyst subunits at the hyphal tip suggest the dynamic formation of two assemblies. The EXO-70/EXO-84 subunits are found at the peripheral part of the Spitzenkörper, which partially coincides with the outer macrovesicular layer, whereas exocyst components SEC-5, -6, -8, and -15 form a delimited crescent at the apical plasma membrane. Localization of SEC-6 and EXO-70 to the plasma membrane and the Spitzenkörper, respectively, depends on actin and microtubule cytoskeletons. The apical region of exocyst-mediated vesicle fusion, elucidated by the plasma membrane–associated exocyst subunits, indicates the presence of an exocytotic gradient with a tip-high maximum that dissipates gradually toward the subapex, confirming the earlier predictions of the vesicle supply center model for hyphal morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3982996  PMID: 24523289
17.  Desmosomal cadherins utilize distinct kinesins for assembly into desmosomes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;195(7):1185-1203.
Desmogleins and desmocollins are transported to the plasma membrane by different kinesin motors, providing a potential mechanism to tailor desmosome structure and function during development and epithelial remodeling.
The desmosomal cadherins, desmogleins (Dsgs) and desmocollins (Dscs), comprise the adhesive core of intercellular junctions known as desmosomes. Although these adhesion molecules are known to be critical for tissue integrity, mechanisms that coordinate their trafficking into intercellular junctions to regulate their proper ratio and distribution are unknown. We demonstrate that Dsg2 and Dsc2 both exhibit microtubule-dependent transport in epithelial cells but use distinct motors to traffic to the plasma membrane. Functional interference with kinesin-1 blocked Dsg2 transport, resulting in the assembly of Dsg2-deficient junctions with minimal impact on distribution of Dsc2 or desmosomal plaque components. In contrast, inhibiting kinesin-2 prevented Dsc2 movement and decreased its plasma membrane accumulation without affecting Dsg2 trafficking. Either kinesin-1 or -2 deficiency weakened intercellular adhesion, despite the maintenance of adherens junctions and other desmosome components at the plasma membrane. Differential regulation of desmosomal cadherin transport could provide a mechanism to tailor adhesion strength during tissue morphogenesis and remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3246898  PMID: 22184201
18.  Protein zero, a nervous system adhesion molecule, triggers epithelial reversion in host carcinoma cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1995;131(2):465-482.
Protein zero (P(o)) is the immunoglobulin gene superfamily glycoprotein that mediates the self-adhesion of the Schwann cell plasma membrane that yields compact myelin. HeLa is a poorly differentiated carcinoma cell line that has lost characteristic morphological features of the cervical epithelium from which it originated. Normally, HeLa cells are not self-adherent. However, when P(o) is artificially expressed in this line, cells rapidly aggregate, and P(o) concentrates specifically at cell-cell contact sites. Rows of desmosomes are generated at these interfaces, the plasma membrane localization of cingulin and ZO-1, proteins that have been shown to be associated with tight junctions, is substantially increased, and cytokeratins coalesce into a cohesive intracellular network. Immunofluorescence patterns for the adherens junction proteins N-cadherin, alpha-catenin, and vinculin, and the desmosomal polypeptides desmoplakin, desmocollin, and desmoglein, are also markedly enhanced at the cell surface. Our data demonstrate that obligatory cell-cell adhesion, which in this case is initially brought about by the homophilic association of P(o) molecules across the intercellular cleft, triggers pronounced augmentation of the normally sluggish or sub-basal cell adhesion program in HeLa cells, culminating in suppression of the transformed state and reversion of the monolayer to an epithelioid phenotype. Furthermore, this response is apparently accompanied by an increase in mRNA and protein levels for desmoplakin and N-cadherin which are normally associated with epithelial junctions. Our conclusions are supported by analyses of ten proteins we examined immunochemically (P(o), cingulin, ZO-1, desmoplakin, desmoglein, desmocollin, N-cadherin, alpha-catenin, vinculin, and cytokeratin-18), and by quantitative polymerase chain reactions to measure relative amounts of desmoplakin and N-cadherin mRNAs. P(o) has no known signaling properties; the dramatic phenotypic changes we observed are highly likely to have developed in direct response to P(o)-induced cell adhesion. More generally, the ability of this "foreign" membrane adhesion protein to stimulate desmosome and adherens junction formation by augmenting well-studied cadherin-based adhesion mechanisms raises the possibility that perhaps any bona fide cell adhesion molecule, when functionally expressed, can engage common intracellular pathways and trigger reversion of a carcinoma to an epithelial-like phenotype.
PMCID: PMC2199992  PMID: 7593172
19.  Cross-Talk between Adherens Junctions and Desmosomes Depends on Plakoglobin 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;136(4):919-934.
Squamous epithelial cells have both adherens junctions and desmosomes. The ability of these cells to organize the desmosomal proteins into a functional structure depends upon their ability first to organize an adherens junction. Since the adherens junction and the desmosome are separate structures with different molecular make up, it is not immediately obvious why formation of an adherens junction is a prerequisite for the formation of a desmosome. The adherens junction is composed of a transmembrane classical cadherin (E-cadherin and/or P-cadherin in squamous epithelial cells) linked to either β-catenin or plakoglobin, which is linked to α-catenin, which is linked to the actin cytoskeleton. The desmosome is composed of transmembrane proteins of the broad cadherin family (desmogleins and desmocollins) that are linked to the intermediate filament cytoskeleton, presumably through plakoglobin and desmoplakin. To begin to study the role of adherens junctions in the assembly of desmosomes, we produced an epithelial cell line that does not express classical cadherins and hence is unable to organize desmosomes, even though it retains the requisite desmosomal components. Transfection of E-cadherin and/or P-cadherin into this cell line did not restore the ability to organize desmosomes; however, overexpression of plakoglobin, along with E-cadherin, did permit desmosome organization. These data suggest that plakoglobin, which is the only known common component to both adherens junctions and desmosomes, must be linked to E-cadherin in the adherens junction before the cell can begin to assemble desmosomal components at regions of cell–cell contact. Although adherens junctions can form in the absence of plakoglobin, making use only of β-catenin, such junctions cannot support the formation of desmosomes. Thus, we speculate that plakoglobin plays a signaling role in desmosome organization.
PMCID: PMC2132504  PMID: 9049256
20.  The Exocyst Protein Sec10 Interacts with Polycystin-2 and Knockdown Causes PKD-Phenotypes 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(4):e1001361.
Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is characterized by formation of renal cysts that destroy the kidney. Mutations in PKD1 and PKD2, encoding polycystins-1 and -2, cause ADPKD. Polycystins are thought to function in primary cilia, but it is not well understood how these and other proteins are targeted to cilia. Here, we provide the first genetic and biochemical link between polycystins and the exocyst, a highly-conserved eight-protein membrane trafficking complex. We show that knockdown of exocyst component Sec10 yields cellular phenotypes associated with ADPKD, including loss of flow-generated calcium increases, hyperproliferation, and abnormal activation of MAPK. Sec10 knockdown in zebrafish phenocopies many aspects of polycystin-2 knockdown—including curly tail up, left-right patterning defects, glomerular expansion, and MAPK activation—suggesting that the exocyst is required for pkd2 function in vivo. We observe a synergistic genetic interaction between zebrafish sec10 and pkd2 for many of these cilia-related phenotypes. Importantly, we demonstrate a biochemical interaction between Sec10 and the ciliary proteins polycystin-2, IFT88, and IFT20 and co-localization of the exocyst and polycystin-2 at the primary cilium. Our work supports a model in which the exocyst is required for the ciliary localization of polycystin-2, thus allowing for polycystin-2 function in cellular processes.
Author Summary
ADPKD, the most common potentially lethal monogenetic disorder, is caused by mutations in PKD1 and PKD2. We are beginning to appreciate the important roles these gene products, and others, play in cilia, which are thin rod-like organelles projecting from the cell surface. Defects in cilia function are associated with a variety of human diseases, including all variants of polycystic kidney disease. Despite intense study of cilia and how they influence disease, it is not understood how proteins are targeted and delivered to cilia. Our work provides the first link between the exocyst, a conserved eight-protein complex involved in protein localization, and a disease gene, PKD2. Knockdown of the exocyst protein Sec10 results in a number of cellular- and cilia-related phenotypes that are also seen upon pkd2 loss—both in kidney cells and zebrafish. We then demonstrate specific genetic and biochemical interactions between sec10 and pkd2. We further show that Sec10 interacts with other ciliary proteins, such as IFT20 and IFT88. From this work, we propose that the exocyst is involved in bringing multiple types of ciliary proteins to the cilium. Given that the exocyst is required for cilia structure and function, the exocyst may play a role in cilia-related human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3072367  PMID: 21490950
21.  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
22.  Molecular Interactions Position Mso1p, a Novel PTB Domain Homologue, in the Interface of the Exocyst Complex and the Exocytic SNARE Machinery in Yeast 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(10):4543-4556.
In this study, we have analyzed the association of the Sec1p interacting protein Mso1p with the membrane fusion machinery in yeast. We show that Mso1p is essential for vesicle fusion during prospore membrane formation. Green fluorescent protein-tagged Mso1p localizes to the sites of exocytosis and at the site of prospore membrane formation. In vivo and in vitro experiments identified a short amino-terminal sequence in Mso1p that mediates its interaction with Sec1p and is needed for vesicle fusion. A point mutation, T47A, within the Sec1p-binding domain abolishes Mso1p functionality in vivo, and mso1T47A mutant cells display specific genetic interactions with sec1 mutants. Mso1p coimmunoprecipitates with Sec1p, Sso1/2p, Snc1/2p, Sec9p, and the exocyst complex subunit Sec15p. In sec4-8 and SEC4I133 mutant cells, association of Mso1p with Sso1/2p, Snc1/2p, and Sec9p is affected, whereas interaction with Sec1p persists. Furthermore, in SEC4I133 cells the dominant negative Sec4I133p coimmunoprecipitates with Mso1p–Sec1p complex. Finally, we identify Mso1p as a homologue of the PTB binding domain of the mammalian Sec1p binding Mint proteins. These results position Mso1p in the interface of the exocyst complex, Sec4p, and the SNARE machinery, and reveal a novel layer of molecular conservation in the exocytosis machinery.
PMCID: PMC1237063  PMID: 16030256
23.  RalB Mobilizes the Exocyst To Drive Cell Migration†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(2):727-734.
The Ras family GTPases RalA and RalB have been defined as central components of the regulatory machinery supporting tumor initiation and progression. Although it is known that Ral proteins mediate oncogenic Ras signaling and physically and functionally interact with vesicle trafficking machinery, their mechanistic contribution to oncogenic transformation is unknown. Here, we have directly evaluated the relative contribution of Ral proteins and Ral effector pathways to cell motility and directional migration. Through loss-of-function analysis, we find that RalA is not limiting for cell migration in normal mammalian epithelial cells. In contrast, RalB and the Sec6/8 complex or exocyst, an immediate downstream Ral effector complex, are required for vectorial cell motility. RalB expression is required for promoting both exocyst assembly and localization to the leading edge of moving cells. We propose that RalB regulation of exocyst function is required for the coordinated delivery of secretory vesicles to the sites of dynamic plasma membrane expansion that specify directional movement.
PMCID: PMC1346891  PMID: 16382162
24.  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
25.  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

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