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1.  A molecular mechanism directly linking E-cadherin adhesion to initiation of epithelial cell surface polarity 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2007;178(2):323-335.
Mechanisms involved in maintaining plasma membrane domains in fully polarized epithelial cells are known, but when and how directed protein sorting and trafficking occur to initiate cell surface polarity are not. We tested whether establishment of the basolateral membrane domain and E-cadherin–mediated epithelial cell–cell adhesion are mechanistically linked. We show that the basolateral membrane aquaporin (AQP)-3, but not the equivalent apical membrane AQP5, is delivered in post-Golgi structures directly to forming cell–cell contacts where it co-accumulates precisely with E-cadherin. Functional disruption of individual components of a putative lateral targeting patch (e.g., microtubules, the exocyst, and soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein receptors) did not inhibit cell–cell adhesion or colocalization of the other components with E-cadherin, but each blocked AQP3 delivery to forming cell–cell contacts. Thus, components of the lateral targeting patch localize independently of each other to cell–cell contacts but collectively function as a holocomplex to specify basolateral vesicle delivery to nascent cell–cell contacts and immediately initiate cell surface polarity.
PMCID: PMC2064450  PMID: 17635938
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  Coupling Assembly of the E-Cadherin/β-Catenin Complex to Efficient Endoplasmic Reticulum Exit and Basal-lateral Membrane Targeting of E-Cadherin in Polarized MDCK Cells  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;144(4):687-699.
The E-cadherin/catenin complex regulates Ca++-dependent cell–cell adhesion and is localized to the basal-lateral membrane of polarized epithelial cells. Little is known about mechanisms of complex assembly or intracellular trafficking, or how these processes might ultimately regulate adhesion functions of the complex at the cell surface. The cytoplasmic domain of E-cadherin contains two putative basal-lateral sorting motifs, which are homologous to sorting signals in the low density lipoprotein receptor, but an alanine scan across tyrosine residues in these motifs did not affect the fidelity of newly synthesized E-cadherin delivery to the basal-lateral membrane of MDCK cells. Nevertheless, sorting signals are located in the cytoplasmic domain since a chimeric protein (GP2CAD1), comprising the extracellular domain of GP2 (an apical membrane protein) and the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of E-cadherin, was efficiently and specifically delivered to the basal-lateral membrane. Systematic deletion and recombination of specific regions of the cytoplasmic domain of GP2CAD1 resulted in delivery of <10% of these newly synthesized proteins to both apical and basal-lateral membrane domains. Significantly, >90% of each mutant protein was retained in the ER. None of these mutants formed a strong interaction with β-catenin, which normally occurs shortly after E-cadherin synthesis. In addition, a simple deletion mutation of E-cadherin that lacks β-catenin binding is also localized intracellularly. Thus, β-catenin binding to the whole cytoplasmic domain of E-cadherin correlates with efficient and targeted delivery of E-cadherin to the lateral plasma membrane. In this capacity, we suggest that β-catenin acts as a chauffeur, to facilitate transport of E-cadherin out of the ER and the plasma membrane.
PMCID: PMC2132940  PMID: 10037790
polarity; epithelia; adhesion; protein targeting; membrane domains
7.  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
8.  Lethal giant larvae proteins interact with the exocyst complex and are involved in polarized exocytosis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;170(2):273-283.
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.
PMCID: PMC2171422  PMID: 16027223
9.  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
10.  The interaction of IQGAP1 with the exocyst complex is required for tumor cell invasion downstream of Cdc42 and RhoA 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;181(6):985-998.
Invadopodia are actin-based membrane protrusions formed at contact sites between invasive tumor cells and the extracellular matrix with matrix proteolytic activity. Actin regulatory proteins participate in invadopodia formation, whereas matrix degradation requires metalloproteinases (MMPs) targeted to invadopodia. In this study, we show that the vesicle-tethering exocyst complex is required for matrix proteolysis and invasion of breast carcinoma cells. We demonstrate that the exocyst subunits Sec3 and Sec8 interact with the polarity protein IQGAP1 and that this interaction is triggered by active Cdc42 and RhoA, which are essential for matrix degradation. Interaction between IQGAP1 and the exocyst is necessary for invadopodia activity because enhancement of matrix degradation induced by the expression of IQGAP1 is lost upon deletion of the exocyst-binding site. We further show that the exocyst and IQGAP1 are required for the accumulation of cell surface membrane type 1 MMP at invadopodia. Based on these results, we propose that invadopodia function in tumor cells relies on the coordination of cytoskeletal assembly and exocytosis downstream of Rho guanosine triphosphatases.
PMCID: PMC2426946  PMID: 18541705
11.  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
12.  Listeria monocytogenes Invades the Epithelial Junctions at Sites of Cell Extrusion 
PLoS Pathogens  2006;2(1):e3.
Listeria monocytogenes causes invasive disease by crossing the intestinal epithelial barrier. This process depends on the interaction between the bacterial surface protein Internalin A and the host protein E-cadherin, located below the epithelial tight junctions at the lateral cell-to-cell contacts. We used polarized MDCK cells as a model epithelium to determine how L. monocytogenes breaches the tight junctions to gain access to this basolateral receptor protein. We determined that L. monocytogenes does not actively disrupt the tight junctions, but finds E-cadherin at a morphologically distinct subset of intercellular junctions. We identified these sites as naturally occurring regions where single senescent cells are expelled and detached from the epithelium by extrusion. The surrounding cells reorganize to form a multicellular junction that maintains epithelial continuity. We found that E-cadherin is transiently exposed to the lumenal surface at multicellular junctions during and after cell extrusion, and that L. monocytogenes takes advantage of junctional remodeling to adhere to and subsequently invade the epithelium. In intact epithelial monolayers, an anti-E-cadherin antibody specifically decorates multicellular junctions and blocks L. monocytogenes adhesion. Furthermore, an L. monocytogenes mutant in the Internalin A gene is completely deficient in attachment to the epithelial apical surface and is unable to invade. We hypothesized that L. monocytogenes utilizes analogous extrusion sites for epithelial invasion in vivo. By infecting rabbit ileal loops, we found that the junctions at the cell extrusion zone of villus tips are the specific target for L. monocytogenes adhesion and invasion. Thus, L. monocytogenes exploits the dynamic nature of epithelial renewal and junctional remodeling to breach the intestinal barrier.
Studies in microbial pathogenesis are just beginning to address how epithelial cell polarity and host tissue architecture influence host-pathogen interactions. It has long been known that Listeria monocytogenes invasion of epithelial cells requires binding of host cell E-cadherin, a cell-to-cell junction protein. However, an ongoing question has been how L. monocytogenes reaches this receptor, since E-cadherin is located in the basolateral membrane of enterocytes and is inaccessible to bacteria in the intestinal lumen. By examining polarized epithelial monolayers in tissue culture and rabbit intestine in vivo, the authors investigate how and where L. monocytogenes breaches the tight junctions to interact with E-cadherin and invade. They show that L. monocytogenes takes advantage of a temporal window of junctional reorganization that exposes E-cadherin at sites where senescent cells are extruded and removed from the epithelium. In the small intestine, cell extrusion is confined to the tips of the intestinal villi, and the authors show that junctions at the villus tips are the sites of L. monocytogenes invasion in vivo. If basolateral proteins are exposed at cell extrusion sites, do other microbes that utilize basolateral cellular receptors also find them?
PMCID: PMC1354196  PMID: 16446782
13.  Targeting of the SF/HGF receptor to the basolateral domain of polarized epithelial cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1994;125(2):313-320.
Scatter Factor, also known as Hepatocyte Growth Factor (SF/HGF), has pleiotropic functions including direct control of cell-cell and cell- substrate adhesion in epithelia. The subcellular localization of the SF/HGF receptor is controversial. In this work, the cell surface distribution of the SF/HGF receptor was studied in vivo in epithelial tissues and in vitro in polarized MDCK monolayers. A panel of monoclonal antibodies against the beta chain of the SF/HGF receptor stained the basolateral but not the apical surface of epithelia lining the lumen of human organs. Radiolabeled or fluorescent-tagged anti- receptor antibodies selectively bound the basolateral cell surface of MDCK cells, which form a polarized monolayer sealed by intercellular junctions, when grown on polycarbonate filters in a two-chamber culture system. The receptor was concentrated around the cell-cell contact zone, showing a distribution pattern overlapping with that of the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. The basolateral localization of the SF/HGF receptor was confirmed by immunoprecipitation after domain selective cell surface biotinylation. When cells were fully polarized the SF/HGF receptor became resistant to non-ionic detergents, indicating interaction with insoluble component(s). In pulse-chase labeling and surface biotinylation experiments, the newly synthesized receptor was found exclusively at the basolateral surface. We conclude that the SF/HGF receptor is selectively exposed at the basolateral plasma membrane domain of polarized epithelial cells and is targeted after synthesis to that surface by direct delivery from the trans-Golgi network.
PMCID: PMC2120024  PMID: 8163548
14.  An aPKC-Exocyst Complex Controls Paxillin Phosphorylation and Migration through Localised JNK1 Activation 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(11):e1000235.
The exocyst/aPKC complex controls the spatiotemporal activation of the kinases JNK and ERK at the leading edge of migrating cells and thereby controls the dynamic behaviour of the adhesion protein paxillin during cell migration.
Atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) isoforms have been implicated in cell polarisation and migration through association with Cdc42 and Par6. In distinct migratory models, the Exocyst complex has been shown to be involved in secretory events and migration. By RNA interference (RNAi) we show that the polarised delivery of the Exocyst to the leading edge of migrating NRK cells is dependent upon aPKCs. Reciprocally we demonstrate that aPKC localisation at the leading edge is dependent upon the Exocyst. The basis of this inter-dependence derives from two-hybrid, mass spectrometry, and co-immunoprecipitation studies, which demonstrate the existence of an aPKC–Exocyst interaction mediated by Kibra. Using RNAi and small molecule inhibitors, the aPKCs, Kibra, and the Exocyst are shown to be required for NRK cell migration and it is further demonstrated that they are necessary for the localized activation of JNK at the leading edge. The migration associated control of JNK by aPKCs determines JNK phosphorylation of the plasma membrane substrate Paxillin, but not the phosphorylation of the nuclear JNK substrate, c-jun. This plasma membrane localized JNK cascade serves to control the stability of focal adhesion complexes, regulating migration. The study integrates the polarising behaviour of aPKCs with the pro-migratory properties of the Exocyst complex, defining a higher order complex associated with the localised activation of JNK at the leading edge of migrating cells that determines migration rate.
Author Summary
Cell migration is an essential process in multicellular organisms during such events as embryonic development, the immune response, and wound healing. Cell migration is also instrumental in the development of pathologies such as cancer cell invasion of healthy tissues. To make cells move, key molecules must be engaged in a coordinated manner; understanding which molecules, and how and when they work (for example, under physiological versus pathological conditions) will impact on new therapies designed to suppress abnormal migration. Migrating cells must coordinate two key processes: extension of the front or ‘leading’ edge of the cell and retraction of the back edge. Both processes require the turnover of protein assemblies known as focal adhesion complexes. In this paper we show that two different groups of regulators of migration – aPKC, a protein kinase, and exocyst, a complex of proteins also known to be required for exocytosis – interact physically via the scaffold protein kibra. All these components are required for efficient cell migration and all are enriched at the leading edge of moving cells, in a mutually dependent manner. At the leading edge, these components control the local activation of two additional protein kinases, ERK and JNK. The activation of ERK and JNK at the front of migrating cells in turn controls the phosphorylation of paxillin, a component of focal adhesions. Phosphorylation of paxillin is associated with the presence of more dynamic focal adhesions. Our data thus indicate that an aPKC-kibra-exocyst complex plays a crucial role in delivering local stimulatory signals to the leading edge of migrating cells.
PMCID: PMC2762617  PMID: 19885391
15.  Failure of epithelial tube maintenance causes hydrocephalus and renal cysts in Dlg5-/- mice 
Developmental cell  2007;13(3):338-350.
Epithelial tubes represent fundamental building blocks of metazoan organisms; however, the mechanisms responsible for their formation and maintenance are not well understood. Here we show that unique and evolutionary conserved coiled-coil MAGUK protein, Dlg5, is required for epithelial tube maintenance in mammalian brain and kidneys. We demonstrate that Dlg5-/- mice develop fully penetrant hydrocephalus and kidney cysts caused by deficiency in membrane delivery of cadherin-catenin adhesion complexes and loss of cell polarity. Dlg5 travels with cadherin-containing vesicles and binds to syntaxin 4, a t-SNARE protein that regulates fusion of transport vesicles with the lateral membrane domain. We propose that Dlg5 functions in plasma membrane delivery of cadherins by linking cadherin-containing transport vesicles with the t-SNARE targeting complex. These findings identify a novel protein causally involved in hydrocephalus and renal cysts and reveal that targeted membrane delivery of cadherin-catenin adhesion complexes is critical for cell polarity and epithelial tube maintenance.
PMCID: PMC2023971  PMID: 17765678
16.  par-1, Atypical pkc, and PP2A/B55 sur-6 Are Implicated in the Regulation of Exocyst-Mediated Membrane Trafficking in Caenorhabditis elegans 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2013;4(1):173-183.
The exocyst is a conserved protein complex that is involved in tethering secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane and regulating cell polarity. Despite a large body of work, little is known how exocyst function is controlled. To identify regulators for exocyst function, we performed a targeted RNA interference (RNAi) screen in Caenorhabditis elegans to uncover kinases and phosphatases that genetically interact with the exocyst. We identified seven kinase and seven phosphatase genes that display enhanced phenotypes when combined with hypomorphic alleles of exoc-7 (exo70), exoc-8 (exo84), or an exoc-7;exoc-8 double mutant. We show that in line with its reported role in exocytotic membrane trafficking, a defective exoc-8 caused accumulation of exocytotic soluble NSF attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins in both intestinal and neuronal cells in C. elegans. Down-regulation of the phosphatase protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) phosphatase regulatory subunit sur-6/B55 gene resulted in accumulation of exocytic SNARE proteins SNB-1 and SNAP-29 in wild-type and in exoc-8 mutant animals. In contrast, RNAi of the kinase par-1 caused reduced intracellular green fluorescent protein signal for the same proteins. Double RNAi experiments for par-1, pkc-3, and sur-6/B55 in C. elegans suggest a possible cooperation and involvement in postembryo lethality, developmental timing, as well as SNARE protein trafficking. Functional analysis of the homologous kinases and phosphatases in Drosophila median neurosecretory cells showed that atypical protein kinase C kinase and phosphatase PP2A regulate exocyst-dependent, insulin-like peptide secretion. Collectively, these results characterize kinases and phosphatases implicated in the regulation of exocyst function, and suggest the possibility for interplay between the par-1 and pkc-3 kinases and the PP2A phosphatase regulatory subunit sur-6 in this process.
PMCID: PMC3887533  PMID: 24192838
Caenorhabditis elegans; exocyst; PP2A; par-1; pkc-3
17.  RalA but Not RalB Enhances Polarized Delivery of Membrane Proteins to the Basolateral Surface of Epithelial Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(13):5746-5756.
RalA and RalB constitute a family of highly similar (85% identity) Ras-related GTPases. Recently, active forms of both RalA and RalB have been shown to bind to the exocyst complex, implicating them in the regulation of cellular secretion. However, we show here that only active RalA enhances the rate of delivery of E-cadherin and other proteins to their site in the basolateral membrane of MDCK cells, consistent with RalA being a regulator of exocyst function. One reason for this difference is that RalA binds more effectively to the exocyst complex than active RalB does both in vivo and in vitro. Another reason is that active RalA localizes to perinuclear recycling endosomes, where regulation of vesicle sorting is thought to take place, while active RalB does not. Strikingly, analysis of chimeras made between RalA and RalB reveals that high-affinity exocyst binding by RalA is due to unique amino acid sequences in RalA that are distal to the common effector-binding domains shared by RalA and RalB. Moreover, these chimeras show that the perinuclear localization of active RalA is due in part to its unique variable domain near the C terminus. This distinct localization appears to be important for RalA effects on secretion because all RalA mutants tested that failed to localize to the perinuclear region also failed to promote basolateral delivery of E-cadherin. Interestingly, one of these inactive mutants maintained binding to the exocyst complex, suggesting that RalA binding to the exocyst is necessary but not sufficient for RalA to promote basolateral delivery of membrane proteins.
PMCID: PMC480895  PMID: 15199131
18.  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
19.  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
20.  The Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule EpCAM Is Required for Epithelial Morphogenesis and Integrity during Zebrafish Epiboly and Skin Development 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(7):e1000563.
The aberrant expression of the transmembrane protein EpCAM is associated with tumor progression, affecting different cellular processes such as cell–cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, differentiation, signaling, and invasion. However, the in vivo function of EpCAM still remains elusive due to the lack of genetic loss-of-function studies. Here, we describe epcam (tacstd) null mutants in zebrafish. Maternal-zygotic mutants display compromised basal protrusive activity and epithelial morphogenesis in cells of the enveloping layer (EVL) during epiboly. In partial redundancy with E-cadherin (Ecad), EpCAM made by EVL cells is further required for cell–cell adhesion within the EVL and, possibly, for proper attachment of underlying deep cells to the inner surface of the EVL, thereby also affecting deep cell epiboly movements. During later development, EpCAM per se becomes indispensable for epithelial integrity within the periderm of the skin, secondarily leading to disrupted morphology of the underlying basal epidermis and moderate hyper-proliferation of skin cells. On the molecular level, EVL cells of epcam mutant embryos display reduced levels of membranous Ecad, accompanied by an enrichment of tight junction proteins and a basal extension of apical junction complexes (AJCs). Our data suggest that EpCAM acts as a partner of E-cadherin to control adhesiveness and integrity as well as plasticity and morphogenesis within simple epithelia. In addition, EpCAM is required for the interaction of the epithelia with underlying cell layers.
Author Summary
EpCAM is a well-established marker for carcinomas of epithelial origin and a potential target for immunotherapy. In vitro analyses have implicated EpCAM in a plethora of different cellular processes, such as adhesion, motility, proliferation, differentiation, and signaling. Strikingly, depending on the context, EpCAM displayed rather opposite effects, either promoting or attenuating cell–cell adhesion versus cell migration and tissue invasion, a phenomenon described as the “double-face” of EpCAM. However, the in vivo relevance of its different effects remained largely unclear. Here, we present the first genetic analysis of EpCAM function in vivo, based on loss-of-function mutants in the zebrafish. As it is in mammals, zebrafish EpCAM is expressed in simple epithelia. Mutant embryos display defects both in epithelial morphogenesis and in epithelial integrity. Reduced epithelial morphogenesis is accompanied, and possibly caused, by an extension of apical junctional complexes and compromised basal protrusive activity. Furthermore, mutant epithelia display alterations in the relative abundance of adherence junction versus tight junction components. In addition, EpCAM tightly cooperates with E-cadherin and has a previously unrecognized trans effect on the morphogenesis and integrity of underlying cell layers. Cell differentiation and proliferation in EpCAM mutants are not, or only secondarily, affected. During later development and adulthood, EpCAM is largely dispensable, reinforcing its suitability as a target for anti-carcinoma immunotherapy with minimal side effects.
PMCID: PMC2700972  PMID: 19609345
21.  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
22.  A Truncated NLR Protein, TIR-NBS2, Is Required for Activated Defense Responses in the exo70B1 Mutant 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(1):e1004945.
During exocytosis, the evolutionarily conserved exocyst complex tethers Golgi-derived vesicles to the target plasma membrane, a critical function for secretory pathways. Here we show that exo70B1 loss-of-function mutants express activated defense responses upon infection and express enhanced resistance to fungal, oomycete and bacterial pathogens. In a screen for mutants that suppress exo70B1 resistance, we identified nine alleles of TIR-NBS2 (TN2), suggesting that loss-of-function of EXO70B1 leads to activation of this nucleotide binding domain and leucine-rich repeat-containing (NLR)-like disease resistance protein. This NLR-like protein is atypical because it lacks the LRR domain common in typical NLR receptors. In addition, we show that TN2 interacts with EXO70B1 in yeast and in planta. Our study thus provides a link between the exocyst complex and the function of a ‘TIR-NBS only’ immune receptor like protein. Our data are consistent with a speculative model wherein pathogen effectors could evolve to target EXO70B1 to manipulate plant secretion machinery. TN2 could monitor EXO70B1 integrity as part of an immune receptor complex.
Author Summary
Secretory pathways play an important role in the plant immune response by delivering antimicrobial compounds and metabolites to the site of infection. The evolutionarily conserved exocyst complex is involved in exocytosis, the final step in the secretory pathway. We showed that loss of the function of EXO70B1, a subunit of exocyst complex, results in activated defense responses, and enhanced resistance to a range of pathogens. We found that EXO70B1 associates with the SNARE complex protein SNAP33, which is involved in focal secretion of defense-related proteins. Enhanced disease resistance and cell death in the exo70B1 mutant are dependent on TIR-NBS2 (TN2), an atypical intracellular immune receptor-like protein that lacks leucine-rich repeats. TN2 physically associates with EXO70B1, and TN2 transcripts accumulate at much higher levels in the exo70B1 mutant. These data are consistent with a model where activation of a receptor pathway containing TIR-NBS2 is responsible for activated defense responses and cell death in exo70B1. Our data further suggest that this, and possibly other, exocyst components could be targets of effectors that are guarded by immune receptors.
PMCID: PMC4305288  PMID: 25617755
23.  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
24.  Induction of polarized cell-cell association and retardation of growth by activation of the E-cadherin-catenin adhesion system in a dispersed carcinoma line 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1994;127(1):247-256.
PC9 lung carcinoma cells cannot tightly associate with one another, and therefore grow singly, despite their expression of E-cadherin, because of their lack of alpha-catenin, a cadherin-associated protein. However, when the E-cadherin is activated by transfection with alpha-catenin cDNA, they form spherical aggregates, each consisting of an enclosed monolayer cell sheet. In the present work, we examined whether the alpha-catenin-transfected cell layers expressed epithelial phenotypes, by determining the distribution of various cell adhesion molecules on their surfaces, including E-cadherin, ZO-1, desmoplakin, integrins, and laminin. In untransfected PC9 cells, all these molecules were randomly distributed on their cell surface. In the transfected cells, however, each of them was redistributed into a characteristic polarized pattern without a change in the amount of expression. Electron microscopic study demonstrated that the alpha-catenin-transfected cell layers acquired apical-basal polarity typical of simple epithelia; they formed microvilli only on the outer surface of the aggregates, and a junctional complex composed of tight junction adherens junction, and desmosome arranged in this order. These results indicate that the activation of E-cadherin triggered the formation of the junctional complex and the polarized distribution of cell surface proteins and structures. We also found that, in untransfected PC9 cells, ZO-1 formed condensed clusters and colocalized with E-cadherin, but that other adhesion molecules rarely showed such colocalization with E-cadherin, suggesting that there is some specific interaction between ZO-1 and E- cadherin even in the absence of cell-cell contacts. In addition, we found that the activation of E-cadherin caused a retardation of PC9 cell growth. Thus, we concluded that the E-cadherin-catenin adhesion system is essential not only for structural organization of epithelial cells but also for the control of their growth.
PMCID: PMC2120192  PMID: 7929567
25.  Identification of a membrane-cytoskeletal complex containing the cell adhesion molecule uvomorulin (E-cadherin), ankyrin, and fodrin in Madin- Darby canine kidney epithelial cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1990;110(2):349-357.
Cell-cell contact is an important determinant in the formation of functionally distinct plasma membrane domains during the development of epithelial cell polarity. In cultures of Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cells, cell-cell contact induces the assembly and accumulation of the Na+,K+-ATPase and elements of the membrane- cytoskeleton (ankyrin and fodrin) at the regions of cell-cell contact. Epithelial cell-cell contact appears to be regulated by the cell adhesion molecule uvomorulin (E-cadherin) which also becomes localized at the lateral plasma membrane of polarized cells. We have sought to determine whether the colocalization of these proteins reflects direct molecular interactions which may play roles in coordinating cell-cell contact and the assembly of the basal-lateral domain of the plasma membrane. Recently, we identified a complex of proteins containing the Na+,K+-ATPase, ankyrin, and fodrin in extracts of whole MDCK cells (Nelson, W.J., and R. W. Hammerton. 1989. J. Cell Biol. 108:893-902). We have now examined cell extracts for protein complexes containing the cell adhesion molecule uvomorulin. Proteins were solubilized from whole MDCK cells and fractionated in sucrose gradients. The sedimentation profile of solubilized uvomorulin is well separated from the majority of cell surface proteins, suggesting that uvomorulin occurs in a protein complex. A distinct portion of uvomorulin (30%) cosediments with ankyrin and fodrin (approximately 10.5S). Further fractionation of cosedimenting proteins in nondenaturing polyacrylamide gels reveals a discrete band of proteins that binds antibodies specific for uvomorulin, Na+,K+-ATPase, ankyrin, and fodrin. Significantly, ankyrin and fodrin, but not Na+K+-ATPase, coimmunoprecipitate in a complex with uvomorulin using uvomorulin antibodies. This result indicates that separate complexes exist containing ankyrin and fodrin with either uvomorulin or Na+,K+-ATPase. These results are discussed in the context of the possible roles of uvomorulin-induced cell-cell contact in the assembly of the membrane-cytoskeleton and associated membrane proteins (e.g., Na+,K+-ATPase) at the contact zone and in the development of cell polarity.
PMCID: PMC2116020  PMID: 2153683

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