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1.  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
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.  The Mammalian Sec6/8 Complex Interacts with Ca2+ Signaling Complexes and Regulates Their Activity 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2000;150(5):1101-1112.
The localization of various Ca2+ transport and signaling proteins in secretory cells is highly restricted, resulting in polarized agonist-stimulated Ca2+ waves. In the present work, we examined the possible roles of the Sec6/8 complex or the exocyst in polarized Ca2+ signaling in pancreatic acinar cells. Immunolocalization by confocal microscopy showed that the Sec6/8 complex is excluded from tight junctions and secretory granules in these cells. The Sec6/8 complex was found in at least two cellular compartments, part of the complex showed similar, but not identical, localization with the Golgi apparatus and part of the complex associated with Ca2+ signaling proteins next to the plasma membrane at the apical pole. Accordingly, immunoprecipitation (IP) of Sec8 did not coimmunoprecipitate βCOP, Golgi 58K protein, or mannosidase II, all Golgi-resident proteins. By contrast, IP of Sec8 coimmunoprecipitates Sec6, type 3 inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3R3), and the Gβγ subunit of G proteins from pancreatic acinar cell extracts. Furthermore, the anti-Sec8 antibodies coimmunoprecipitate actin, Sec6, the plasma membrane Ca2+ pump, the G protein subunits Gαq and Gβγ, the β1 isoform of phospholipase C, and the ER resident IP3R1 from brain microsomal extracts. Antibodies against the various signaling and Ca2+ transport proteins coimmunoprecipitate Sec8 and the other signaling proteins. Dissociation of actin filaments in the immunoprecipitate had no effect on the interaction between Sec6 and Sec8, but released the actin and dissociated the interaction between the Sec6/8 complex and Ca2+ signaling proteins. Hence, the interaction between the Sec6/8 and Ca2+ signaling complexes is likely mediated by the actin cytoskeleton. The anti-Sec6 and anti-Sec8 antibodies inhibited Ca2+ signaling at a step upstream of Ca2+ release by IP3. Disruption of the actin cytoskeleton with latrunculin B in intact cells resulted in partial translocation of Sec6 and Sec8 from membranes to the cytosol and interfered with propagation of agonist-evoked Ca2+ waves. Our results suggest that the Sec6/8 complex has multiple roles in secretory cells including governing the polarized expression of Ca2+ signaling complexes and regulation of their activity.
PMCID: PMC2175249  PMID: 10973998
Sec6/8 complex; Ca2+ signaling proteins; assembly; actin cytoskeleton; Ca2+ signaling
4.  A small rab GTPase is distributed in cytoplasmic vesicles in non polarized cells but colocalizes with the tight junction marker ZO-1 in polarized epithelial cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1994;124(1):101-115.
Small rab/Ypt1/Sec4 GTPase family have been involved in the regulation of membrane traffic along the biosynthetic and endocytic pathways in eucaryotic cells. Polarized epithelial cells have morphologically and functionally distinct apical and basolateral surfaces separated by tight junctions. The establishment and maintenance of these structures require delivery of membrane proteins and lipids to these domains. In this work, we have isolated a cDNA clone from a human intestinal cDNA library encoding a small GTPase, rab13, closely related to the yeast Sec4 protein. Confocal microscopy analysis on polarized Caco-2 cells shows that rab13 protein colocalized with the tight junction marker ZO- 1. Cryostat sections of tissues confirm that rab13 localized to the junctional complex region of a variety of epithelia, including intestine, kidney, liver, and of endothelial cells. This localization requires assembly and integrity of the tight junctions. Disruption of tight junctions by incubation in low Ca2+ media induces the redistribution of rab13. In cells devoid of tight junctions, rab13 was found associated with vesicles dispersed throughout the cytoplasm. Cell- cell contacts initiated by E-cadherin in transfected L cells do not recruit rab13 to the resulting adherens-like junction complexes. The participation of rab13 in polarized transport, in the assembly and/or the activity of tight junctions is discussed.
PMCID: PMC2119893  PMID: 8294494
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate Directs Spermatid Cell Polarity and Exocyst Localization in Drosophila 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(9):1546-1555.
This study identifies phosphoinositides as key regulators of spermatid cell polarity. Polarization and elongation of spermatids in Drosophila are regulated through local synthesis of PIP2 by Sktl, which drives polarized localization of the exocyst complex to promote targeted membrane delivery and polarization of the elongating spermatid cysts.
During spermiogenesis, Drosophila melanogaster spermatids coordinate their elongation in interconnected cysts that become highly polarized, with nuclei localizing to one end and sperm tail growth occurring at the other. Remarkably little is known about the signals that drive spermatid polarity and elongation. Here we identify phosphoinositides as critical regulators of these processes. Reduction of plasma membrane phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) by low-level expression of the PIP2 phosphatase SigD or mutation of the PIP2 biosynthetic enzyme Skittles (Sktl) results in dramatic defects in spermatid cysts, which become bipolar and fail to fully elongate. Defects in polarity are evident from the earliest stages of elongation, indicating that phosphoinositides are required for establishment of polarity. Sktl and PIP2 localize to the growing end of the cysts together with the exocyst complex. Strikingly, the exocyst becomes completely delocalized when PIP2 levels are reduced, and overexpression of Sktl restores exocyst localization and spermatid cyst polarity. Moreover, the exocyst is required for polarity, as partial loss of function of the exocyst subunit Sec8 results in bipolar cysts. Our data are consistent with a mechanism in which localized synthesis of PIP2 recruits the exocyst to promote targeted membrane delivery and polarization of the elongating cysts.
PMCID: PMC2861613  PMID: 20237161
11.  Exocyst Is Involved in Cystogenesis and Tubulogenesis and Acts by Modulating Synthesis and Delivery of Basolateral Plasma Membrane and Secretory Proteins 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2000;11(12):4259-4275.
Epithelial cyst and tubule formation are critical processes that involve transient, highly choreographed changes in cell polarity. Factors controlling these changes in polarity are largely unknown. One candidate factor is the highly conserved eight-member protein complex called the exocyst. We show that during tubulogenesis in an in vitro model system the exocyst relocalized along growing tubules consistent with changes in cell polarity. In yeast, the exocyst subunit Sec10p is a crucial component linking polarized exocytic vesicles with the rest of the exocyst complex and, ultimately, the plasma membrane. When the exocyst subunit human Sec10 was exogenously expressed in epithelial Madin-Darby canine kidney cells, there was a selective increase in the synthesis and delivery of apical and basolateral secretory proteins and a basolateral plasma membrane protein, but not an apical plasma membrane protein. Overexpression of human Sec10 resulted in more efficient and rapid cyst formation and increased tubule formation upon stimulation with hepatocyte growth factor. We conclude that the exocyst plays a central role in the development of epithelial cysts and tubules.
PMCID: PMC15071  PMID: 11102522
12.  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
13.  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
14.  Membrane Palmitoylated Proteins Regulate Trafficking and Processing of Nectins 
European journal of cell biology  2011;90(5):365-375.
Nectins are cell-cell adhesion molecules involved in the formation of various intercellular junctions and the establishment of apical-basal polarity at cell-cell adhesion sites. To have a better understanding of the roles of nectins in the formation of cell-cell junctions, we searched for new cytoplasmic binding partners for nectin. We report that nectin-1α associates with membrane palmitoylated protein 3 (MPP3), one of the human homologues of a Drosophila tumor suppressor gene, Disc large. Two major forms of MPP3 at 66 and 98 kDa were detected, in conjunction with nectin-1α, suggesting that an association between the two may occur in various cell types. Nectin-1α recruits MPP3 to cell-cell contact sites, mediated by a PDZ-binding motif at the carboxyl terminus of nectin-1α. Association with MPP3 increases cell surface expression of nectin-1α and enhances nectin-1α ectodomain shedding, indicating that MPP3 regulates trafficking and processing of nectin-1α. Further study showed that MPP3 interacts with nectin-3α, but not with nectin-2α, showing that the association of nectins with MPP3 is isoform-specific. MPP5, another MPP family member, interacts with nectins with varying affinity and facilitates surface expression of nectin-1α, nectin-2α, and nectin-3α. These data suggest that wide interactions between nectins and MPP family members may occur in various cell-cell junctions and that these associations may regulate trafficking and processing of nectins.
PMCID: PMC3060411  PMID: 21371776
Adherens Junctions; cell adhesion molecule; nectins; MPP; MAGUK; protein trafficking
15.  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
16.  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
17.  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
18.  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
19.  α-Catenin-independent Recruitment of ZO-1 to Nectin-based Cell-Cell Adhesion Sites through Afadin 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2001;12(6):1595-1609.
ZO-1 is an actin filament (F-actin)–binding protein that localizes to tight junctions and connects claudin to the actin cytoskeleton in epithelial cells. In nonepithelial cells that have no tight junctions, ZO-1 localizes to adherens junctions (AJs) and may connect cadherin to the actin cytoskeleton indirectly through β- and α-catenins as one of many F-actin–binding proteins. Nectin is an immunoglobulin-like adhesion molecule that localizes to AJs and is associated with the actin cytoskeleton through afadin, an F-actin–binding protein. Ponsin is an afadin- and vinculin-binding protein that also localizes to AJs. The nectin-afadin complex has a potency to recruit the E-cadherin–β-catenin complex through α-catenin in a manner independent of ponsin. By the use of cadherin-deficient L cell lines stably expressing various components of the cadherin-catenin and nectin-afadin systems, and α-catenin–deficient F9 cell lines, we examined here whether nectin recruits ZO-1 to nectin-based cell-cell adhesion sites. Nectin showed a potency to recruit not only α-catenin but also ZO-1 to nectin-based cell-cell adhesion sites. This recruitment of ZO-1 was dependent on afadin but independent of α-catenin and ponsin. These results indicate that ZO-1 localizes to cadherin-based AJs through interactions not only with α-catenin but also with the nectin-afadin system.
PMCID: PMC37327  PMID: 11408571
20.  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
21.  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
22.  Rho GTPase regulation of exocytosis in yeast is independent of GTP hydrolysis and polarization of the exocyst complex 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;170(4):583-594.
Rho GTPases are important regulators of polarity in eukaryotic cells. In yeast they are involved in regulating the docking and fusion of secretory vesicles with the cell surface. Our analysis of a Rho3 mutant that is unable to interact with the Exo70 subunit of the exocyst reveals a normal polarization of the exocyst complex as well as other polarity markers. We also find that there is no redundancy between the Rho3–Exo70 and Rho1–Sec3 pathways in the localization of the exocyst. This suggests that Rho3 and Cdc42 act to polarize exocytosis by activating the exocytic machinery at the membrane without the need to first recruit it to sites of polarized growth. Consistent with this model, we find that the ability of Rho3 and Cdc42 to hydrolyze GTP is not required for their role in secretion. Moreover, our analysis of the Sec3 subunit of the exocyst suggests that polarization of the exocyst may be a consequence rather than a cause of polarized exocytosis.
PMCID: PMC2171504  PMID: 16103227
23.  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
24.  Sec6/8 complexes on trans-Golgi network and plasma membrane regulate late stages of exocytosis in mammalian cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;155(4):593-604.
Sec6/8 complex regulates delivery of exocytic vesicles to plasma membrane docking sites, but how it is recruited to specific sites in the exocytic pathway is poorly understood. We identified an Sec6/8 complex on trans-Golgi network (TGN) and plasma membrane in normal rat kidney (NRK) cells that formed either fibroblast- (NRK-49F) or epithelial-like (NRK-52E) intercellular junctions. At both TGN and plasma membrane, Sec6/8 complex colocalizes with exocytic cargo protein, vesicular stomatitis virus G protein (VSVG)-tsO45. Newly synthesized Sec6/8 complex is simultaneously recruited from the cytosol to both sites. However, brefeldin A treatment inhibits recruitment to the plasma membrane and other treatments that block exocytosis (e.g., expression of kinase-inactive protein kinase D and low temperature incubation) cause accumulation of Sec6/8 on the TGN, indicating that steady-state distribution of Sec6/8 complex depends on continuous exocytic vesicle trafficking. Addition of antibodies specific for TGN- or plasma membrane–bound Sec6/8 complexes to semiintact NRK cells results in cargo accumulation in a perinuclear region or near the plasma membrane, respectively. These results indicate that Sec6/8 complex is required for several steps in exocytic transport of vesicles between TGN and plasma membrane.
PMCID: PMC2198873  PMID: 11696560
cell polarity; Golgi apparatus/secretion; cell membrane/metabolism; intercellular junctions/physiology; intracellular membranes/metabolism
25.  The Microtubule-associated Rho Activating Factor GEF-H1 interacts with Exocyst complex to regulate Vesicle Traffic 
Developmental cell  2012;23(2):397-411.
The exocyst complex plays a critical role in targeting and tethering vesicles to specific sites of the plasma membrane. These events are crucial for polarized delivery of membrane components to the cell surface, which is critical for cell motility and division. Though Rho GTPases are involved in regulating actin dynamics and membrane trafficking, their role in exocyst-mediated vesicle targeting is not very clear. Herein, we present evidence that depletion of GEF-H1, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rho proteins, affects vesicle trafficking. Interestingly, we found that GEF-H1 directly binds to exocyst component Sec5 in a Ral GTPase-dependent manner. This interaction promotes RhoA activation, which then regulates exocyst assembly/localization and exocytosis. Taken together, our work defines a mechanism for RhoA activation in response to RalA-Sec5 signaling and involvement of GEF-H1/RhoA pathway in the regulation of vesicle trafficking.
PMCID: PMC3422510  PMID: 22898781

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