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.
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.
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.
In yeast, assembly of exocytic soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive fusion protein (NSF) attachment protein receptor (SNARE) complexes between the secretory vesicle SNARE Sncp and the plasma membrane SNAREs Ssop and Sec9p occurs at a late stage of the exocytic reaction. Mutations that block either secretory vesicle delivery or tethering prevent SNARE complex assembly and the localization of Sec1p, a SNARE complex binding protein, to sites of secretion. By contrast, wild-type levels of SNARE complexes persist in the sec1-1 mutant after a secretory block is imposed, suggesting a role for Sec1p after SNARE complex assembly. In the sec18-1 mutant, cis-SNARE complexes containing surface-accessible Sncp accumulate in the plasma membrane. Thus, one function of Sec18p is to disassemble SNARE complexes on the postfusion membrane.
NSF; membrane fusion; SNAREs; exocyst; Sec1
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 complex tethers post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane prior to docking and fusion. In this study, we identify Sec3, the missing component of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe exocyst complex (SpSec3). SpSec3 shares many properties with its orthologs, and its mutants are rescued by human Sec3/EXOC1. Although involved in exocytosis, SpSec3 does not appear to mark the site of exocyst complex assembly at the plasma membrane. It does, however, mark the sites of actin cytoskeleton recruitment and controls the organization of all three yeast actin structures: the actin cables, endocytic actin patches and actomyosin ring. Specifically, SpSec3 physically interacts with For3 and sec3 mutants have no actin cables as a result of a failure to polarize this nucleating formin. SpSec3 also interacts with actin patch components and sec3 mutants have depolarized actin patches of reduced endocytic capacity. Finally, the constriction and disassembly of the cytokinetic actomyosin ring is compromised in these sec3 mutant cells. We propose that a role of SpSec3 is to spatially couple actin machineries and their independently polarized regulators. As a consequence of its dual role in secretion and actin organization, Sec3 appears as a major co-ordinator of cell morphology in fission yeast.
actin; endocytosis; exocyst; morphology; Schizosaccharomyces pombe
The exocyst is an 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.
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.
The exocyst complex is an evolutionarily conserved multisubunit protein complex implicated in tethering secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane. Originally identified two decades ago in budding yeast, investigations using several different eukaryotic systems have since made great progress toward determination of the overall structure and organization of the eight exocyst subunits. Studies point to a critical role for the complex as a spatiotemporal regulator through the numerous protein and lipid interactions of its subunits, although a molecular understanding of exocyst function has been challenging to elucidate. Recent progress demonstrates that the exocyst is also important for additional trafficking steps and cellular processes beyond exocytosis, with links to development and disease. In this review, we discuss current knowledge of exocyst architecture, assembly, regulation and its roles in a variety of cellular trafficking pathways.
Rho GTPases are important regulators of polarity in eukaryotic cells. In yeast they are involved in regulating the docking and fusion of secretory vesicles with the cell surface. Our analysis of a Rho3 mutant that is unable to interact with the Exo70 subunit of the exocyst reveals a normal polarization of the exocyst complex as well as other polarity markers. We also find that there is no redundancy between the Rho3–Exo70 and Rho1–Sec3 pathways in the localization of the exocyst. This suggests that Rho3 and Cdc42 act to polarize exocytosis by activating the exocytic machinery at the membrane without the need to first recruit it to sites of polarized growth. Consistent with this model, we find that the ability of Rho3 and Cdc42 to hydrolyze GTP is not required for their role in secretion. Moreover, our analysis of the Sec3 subunit of the exocyst suggests that polarization of the exocyst may be a consequence rather than a cause of polarized exocytosis.
The exocyst 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.
The exocyst complex subunit Sec5 is a downstream effector of RalA-GTPase which promotes RalA-exocyst interactions and exocyst assembly, serving to tether secretory granules to docking sites on the plasma membrane. We recently reported that RalA regulates biphasic insulin secretion in pancreatic islet β cells in part by tethering insulin secretory granules to Ca2+ channels to assist excitosome assembly. Here, we assessed β cell exocytosis by patch clamp membrane capacitance measurement and total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to investigate the role of Sec5 in regulating insulin secretion. Sec5 is present in human and rodent islet β cells, localized to insulin granules. Sec5 protein depletion in rat INS-1 cells inhibited depolarization-induced release of primed insulin granules from both readily-releasable pool and mobilization from the reserve pool. This reduction in insulin exocytosis was attributed mainly to reduction in recruitment and exocytosis of newcomer insulin granules that undergo minimal docking time at the plasma membrane, but which encompassed a larger portion of biphasic glucose stimulated insulin secretion. Sec5 protein knockdown had little effect on predocked granules, unless vigorously stimulated by KCl depolarization. Taken together, newcomer insulin granules in β cells are more sensitive than predocked granules to Sec5 regulation.
The exocyst is an octameric protein complex, which mediates the tethering of post-Golgi secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane prior to exocytic fusion. The exocyst assembles by side-by-side packing of rod-shaped subunits composed of helical bundles. The targeting of secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane involves direct interactions of the exocyst with PI(4,5)P2. In addition, a number of small GTP-binding proteins interact with components of the exocyst and regulate the assembly, localization, and function of this complex. Here we review the recent advances in the field, focusing on the function of the exocyst in polarized exocytosis.
Polarized exocytosis is important for morphogenesis and cell growth. The exocyst is a multiprotein complex implicated in tethering secretory vesicles at specific sites of the plasma membrane for exocytosis. In the budding yeast, the exocyst is localized to sites of bud emergence or the tips of small daughter cells, where it mediates secretion and cell surface expansion. To understand how exocytosis is spatially controlled, we systematically analyzed the localization of Sec15p, a member of the exocyst complex and downstream effector of the rab protein Sec4p, in various mutants. We found that the polarized localization of Sec15p relies on functional upstream membrane traffic, activated rab protein Sec4p, and its guanine exchange factor Sec2p. The initial targeting of both Sec4p and Sec15p to the bud tip depends on polarized actin cable. However, different recycling mechanisms for rab and Sec15p may account for the different kinetics of polarization for these two proteins. We also found that Sec3p and Sec15p, though both members of the exocyst complex, rely on distinctive targeting mechanisms for their localization. The assembly of the exocyst may integrate various cellular signals to ensure that exocytosis is tightly controlled. Key regulators of cell polarity such as Cdc42p are important for the recruitment of the exocyst to the budding site. Conversely, we found that the proper localization of these cell polarity regulators themselves also requires a functional exocytosis pathway. We further report that Bem1p, a protein essential for the recruitment of signaling molecules for the establishment of cell polarity, interacts with the exocyst complex. We propose that a cyclical regulatory network contributes to the establishment and maintenance of polarized cell growth in yeast.
Large oligomeric tethering complexes such as exocyst, TRAPP, and HOPS have been implicated in Rab- and SNARE-dependent membrane fusion. This paper shows that HOPS directly tethers liposomes that bear vacuolar lipids or the Rab Ypt7p and that tethering is the main mechanism by which HOPS stimulates trans-SNARE complex formation and fusion.
Vacuole homotypic fusion has been reconstituted with all purified components: vacuolar lipids, four soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins, Sec17p, Sec18p, the Rab Ypt7p, and the hexameric homotypic fusion and vacuole protein sorting complex (HOPS). HOPS is a Rab-effector with direct affinity for SNAREs (presumably via its Sec1-Munc18 homologous subunit Vps33p) and for certain vacuolar lipids. Each of these pure vacuolar proteins was required for optimal proteoliposome clustering, raising the question of which was most directly involved. We now present model subreactions of clustering and fusion that reveal that HOPS is the direct agent of tethering. The Rab and vacuole lipids contribute to tethering by supporting the membrane association of HOPS. HOPS indirectly facilitates trans-SNARE complex formation by tethering membranes, because the synthetic liposome tethering factor polyethylene glycol can also stimulate trans-SNARE complex formation and fusion. SNAREs further stabilize the associations of HOPS-tethered membranes. HOPS then protects newly formed trans-SNARE complexes from disassembly by Sec17p/Sec18p.
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.
Exocytosis in yeast requires the assembly of the secretory vesicle soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (v-SNARE) Sncp and the plasma membrane t-SNAREs Ssop and Sec9p into a SNARE complex. High-level expression of mutant Snc1 or Sso2 proteins that have a COOH-terminal geranylgeranylation signal instead of a transmembrane domain inhibits exocytosis at a stage after vesicle docking. The mutant SNARE proteins are membrane associated, correctly targeted, assemble into SNARE complexes, and do not interfere with the incorporation of wild-type SNARE proteins into complexes. Mutant SNARE complexes recruit GFP-Sec1p to sites of exocytosis and can be disassembled by the Sec18p ATPase. Heterotrimeric SNARE complexes assembled from both wild-type and mutant SNAREs are present in heterogeneous higher-order complexes containing Sec1p that sediment at greater than 20S. Based on a structural analogy between geranylgeranylated SNAREs and the GPI-HA mutant influenza virus fusion protein, we propose that the mutant SNAREs are fusion proteins unable to catalyze fusion of the distal leaflets of the secretory vesicle and plasma membrane. In support of this model, the inverted cone–shaped lipid lysophosphatidylcholine rescues secretion from SNARE mutant cells.
secretion; exocytosis; yeast; fusion pore; hemifusion
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
Yeast Tip20, a subunit of the Dsl1 complex, is implicated in Golgi-to–endoplasmic reticulum retrograde transport. Differing from Tip20, its mammalian counterpart, RINT-1, is required for endosome-to–trans-Golgi network transport. RINT-1 in coordination with the COG complex regulates SNARE complex assembly at the trans-Golgi network.
Docking and fusion of transport vesicles/carriers with the target membrane involve a tethering factor–mediated initial contact followed by soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE)–catalyzed membrane fusion. The multisubunit tethering CATCHR family complexes (Dsl1, COG, exocyst, and GARP complexes) share very low sequence homology among subunits despite likely evolving from a common ancestor and participate in fundamentally different membrane trafficking pathways. Yeast Tip20, as a subunit of the Dsl1 complex, has been implicated in retrograde transport from the Golgi apparatus to the endoplasmic reticulum. Our previous study showed that RINT-1, the mammalian counterpart of yeast Tip20, mediates the association of ZW10 (mammalian Dsl1) with endoplasmic reticulum–localized SNARE proteins. In the present study, we show that RINT-1 is also required for endosome-to–trans-Golgi network trafficking. RINT-1 uncomplexed with ZW10 interacts with the COG complex, another member of the CATCHR family complex, and regulates SNARE complex assembly at the trans-Golgi network. This additional role for RINT-1 may in part reflect adaptation to the demand for more diverse transport routes from endosomes to the trans-Golgi network in mammals compared with those in a unicellular organism, yeast. The present findings highlight a new role of RINT-1 in coordination with the COG complex.
Polarized exocytosis plays a major role in development and cell differentiation but the mechanisms that target exocytosis to specific membrane domains in animal cells are still poorly understood. We characterized Drosophila Sec6, a component of the exocyst complex that is believed to tether secretory vesicles to specific plasma membrane sites. sec6 mutations cause cell lethality and disrupt plasma membrane growth. In developing photoreceptor cells (PRCs), Sec6 but not Sec5 or Sec8 shows accumulation at adherens junctions. In late PRCs, Sec6, Sec5, and Sec8 colocalize at the rhabdomere, the light sensing subdomain of the apical membrane. PRCs with reduced Sec6 function accumulate secretory vesicles and fail to transport proteins to the rhabdomere, but show normal localization of proteins to the apical stalk membrane and the basolateral membrane. Furthermore, we show that Rab11 forms a complex with Sec5 and that Sec5 interacts with Sec6 suggesting that the exocyst is a Rab11 effector that facilitates protein transport to the apical rhabdomere in Drosophila PRCs.
The 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.
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 exocyst consists of eight rod-shaped subunits that align in a side-by-side manner to tether secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane in preparation for fusion. Two subunits, Sec3p and Exo70p, localize to exocytic sites by an actin-independent pathway, whereas the other six ride on vesicles along actin cables. Here, we demonstrate that three of the four domains of Exo70p are essential for growth. The remaining domain, domain C, is not essential but when deleted, it leads to synthetic lethality with many secretory mutations, defects in exocyst assembly of exocyst components Sec5p and Sec6p, and loss of actin-independent localization. This is analogous to a deletion of the amino-terminal domain of Sec3p, which prevents an interaction with Cdc42p or Rho1p and blocks its actin-independent localization. The two mutations are synthetically lethal, even in the presence of high copy number suppressors that can bypass complete deletions of either single gene. Although domain C binds Rho3p, loss of the Exo70p-Rho3p interaction does not account for the synthetic lethal interactions or the exocyst assembly defects. The results suggest that either Exo70p or Sec3p must associate with the plasma membrane for the exocyst to function as a vesicle tether.
Vps33, a member of the Sec1/Munc18 family of soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) chaperones, is a subunit of the homotypic fusion and protein sorting and class C core vacuole/endosome tethering complexes and essential for endolysosomal transport. In this study, Vps33 interactions with SNARE proteins are investigated using genetic and biochemical approaches.
Soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins catalyze membrane fusion events in the secretory and endolysosomal systems, and all SNARE-mediated fusion processes require cofactors of the Sec1/Munc18 (SM) family. Vps33 is an SM protein and subunit of the Vps-C complexes HOPS (homotypic fusion and protein sorting) and CORVET (class C core vacuole/endosome tethering), which are central regulators of endocytic traffic. Here we present biochemical studies of interactions between Saccharomyces cerevisiae vacuolar SNAREs and the HOPS holocomplex or Vps33 alone. HOPS binds the N-terminal Habc domain of the Qa-family SNARE Vam3, but Vps33 is not required for this interaction. Instead, Vps33 binds the SNARE domains of Vam3, Vam7, and Nyv1. Vps33 directly binds vacuolar quaternary SNARE complexes, and the affinity of Vps33 for SNARE complexes is greater than for individual SNAREs. Through targeted mutational analyses, we identify missense mutations of Vps33 that produce a novel set of defects, including cargo missorting and the loss of Vps33-HOPS association. Together these data suggest a working model for membrane docking: HOPS associates with N-terminal domains of Vam3 and Vam7 through Vps33-independent interactions, which are followed by binding of Vps33, the HOPS SM protein, to SNARE domains and finally to the quaternary SNARE complex. Our results also strengthen the hypothesis that SNARE complex binding is a core attribute of SM protein function.
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.