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1.  Membrane Trafficking in the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae Model 
The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is one of the best characterized eukaryotic models. The secretory pathway was the first trafficking pathway clearly understood mainly thanks to the work done in the laboratory of Randy Schekman in the 1980s. They have isolated yeast sec mutants unable to secrete an extracellular enzyme and these SEC genes were identified as encoding key effectors of the secretory machinery. For this work, the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine has been awarded to Randy Schekman; the prize is shared with James Rothman and Thomas Südhof. Here, we present the different trafficking pathways of yeast S. cerevisiae. At the Golgi apparatus newly synthesized proteins are sorted between those transported to the plasma membrane (PM), or the external medium, via the exocytosis or secretory pathway (SEC), and those targeted to the vacuole either through endosomes (vacuolar protein sorting or VPS pathway) or directly (alkaline phosphatase or ALP pathway). Plasma membrane proteins can be internalized by endocytosis (END) and transported to endosomes where they are sorted between those targeted for vacuolar degradation and those redirected to the Golgi (recycling or RCY pathway). Studies in yeast S. cerevisiae allowed the identification of most of the known effectors, protein complexes, and trafficking pathways in eukaryotic cells, and most of them are conserved among eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC4307317  PMID: 25584613
membrane trafficking; yeast; secretion; endocytosis; vacuolar protein sorting
2.  Study of the Plant COPII Vesicle Coat Subunits by Functional Complementation of Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mutants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90072.
The formation and budding of endoplasmic reticulum ER-derived vesicles depends on the COPII coat protein complex that was first identified in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The ER-associated Sec12 and the Sar1 GTPase initiate the COPII coat formation by recruiting the Sec23–Sec24 heterodimer following the subsequent recruitment of the Sec13–Sec31 heterotetramer. In yeast, there is usually one gene encoding each COPII protein and these proteins are essential for yeast viability, whereas the plant genome encodes multiple isoforms of all COPII subunits. Here, we used a systematic yeast complementation assay to assess the functionality of Arabidopsis thaliana COPII proteins. In this study, the different plant COPII subunits were expressed in their corresponding temperature-sensitive yeast mutant strain to complement their thermosensitivity and secretion phenotypes. Secretion was assessed using two different yeast cargos: the soluble α-factor pheromone and the membranous v-SNARE (vesicle-soluble NSF (N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor) attachment protein receptor) Snc1 involved in the fusion of the secretory vesicles with the plasma membrane. This complementation study allowed the identification of functional A. thaliana COPII proteins for the Sec12, Sar1, Sec24 and Sec13 subunits that could represent an active COPII complex in plant cells. Moreover, we found that AtSec12 and AtSec23 were co-immunoprecipitated with AtSar1 in total cell extract of 15 day-old seedlings of A. thaliana. This demonstrates that AtSar1, AtSec12 and AtSec23 can form a protein complex that might represent an active COPII complex in plant cells.
PMCID: PMC3934973  PMID: 24587212
3.  Lsb1 Is a Negative Regulator of Las17 Dependent Actin Polymerization Involved in Endocytosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61147.
The spatial and temporal regulation of actin polymerization is crucial for various cellular processes. Members of the Wiskott–Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP) family activate the Arp2/3-complex leading to actin polymerization. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains only one WASP homolog, Las17, that requires additional factors for its regulation. Lsb1 and Lsb2/Pin3 are two yeast homologous proteins bearing an SH3 domain that were identified as Las17-binding proteins. Lsb2/Pin3 that promotes prion induction was suggested to link this prion formation to the actin cytoskeleton. However, the cellular role of Lsb1 and the molecular function of both Lsb1 and Lsb2 remain unknown. In this study, we show that Lsb1 and/or Lsb2 full-length proteins inhibit Las17-mediated actin polymerization in vitro, Lsb2 being a less potent inhibitor of Las17 activity compared to Lsb1. Addition of Lsb1 or Lsb2 to the corresponding full-length Lsb1/2 further inhibits Las17 activity. Lsb1 and Lsb2 form homo- and hetero-oligomeric complexes suggesting that these two proteins could regulate Las17 activity via dimerization or cooperative binding. In vivo, overexpressed Lsb1 and Lsb2 proteins cluster Las17-CFP in few cytoplasmic punctate structures that are also positive for other Arp2/3-dependent actin polymerization effectors like Sla1 or Abp1. But, only Lsb1 overexpression blocks the internalization step of receptor-mediated endocytosis. This shows a specific function of Lsb1 in endocytosis.
PMCID: PMC3620054  PMID: 23577202
4.  Evolutionary analysis of the ENTH/ANTH/VHS protein superfamily reveals a coevolution between membrane trafficking and metabolism 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:297.
Membrane trafficking involves the complex regulation of proteins and lipids intracellular localization and is required for metabolic uptake, cell growth and development. Different trafficking pathways passing through the endosomes are coordinated by the ENTH/ANTH/VHS adaptor protein superfamily. The endosomes are crucial for eukaryotes since the acquisition of the endomembrane system was a central process in eukaryogenesis.
Our in silico analysis of this ENTH/ANTH/VHS superfamily, consisting of proteins gathered from 84 complete genomes representative of the different eukaryotic taxa, revealed that genomic distribution of this superfamily allows to discriminate Fungi and Metazoa from Plantae and Protists. Next, in a four way genome wide comparison, we showed that this discriminative feature is observed not only for other membrane trafficking effectors, but also for proteins involved in metabolism and in cytokinesis, suggesting that metabolism, cytokinesis and intracellular trafficking pathways co-evolved. Moreover, some of the proteins identified were implicated in multiple functions, in either trafficking and metabolism or trafficking and cytokinesis, suggesting that membrane trafficking is central to this co-evolution process.
Our study suggests that membrane trafficking and compartmentalization were not only key features for the emergence of eukaryotic cells but also drove the separation of the eukaryotes in the different taxa.
PMCID: PMC3473312  PMID: 22748146
Membrane trafficking; Cytokinesis; Metabolism; Comparative genomic; Eukaryotic evolution; Phylogeny
5.  Rtn1p Is Involved in Structuring the Cortical Endoplasmic Reticulum 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(7):3009-3020.
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contains both cisternal and reticular elements in one contiguous structure. We identified rtn1Δ in a systematic screen for yeast mutants with altered ER morphology. The ER in rtn1Δ cells is predominantly cisternal rather than reticular, yet the net surface area of ER is not significantly changed. Rtn1-green fluorescent protein (GFP) associates with the reticular ER at the cell cortex and with the tubules that connect the cortical ER to the nuclear envelope, but not with the nuclear envelope itself. Rtn1p overexpression also results in an altered ER structure. Rtn proteins are found on the ER in a wide range of eukaryotes and are defined by two membrane-spanning domains flanking a conserved hydrophilic loop. Our results suggest that Rtn proteins may direct the formation of reticulated ER. We independently identified Rtn1p in a proteomic screen for proteins associated with the exocyst vesicle tethering complex. The conserved hydophilic loop of Rtn1p binds to the exocyst subunit Sec6p. Overexpression of this loop results in a modest accumulation of secretory vesicles, suggesting impaired exocyst function. The interaction of Rtn1p with the exocyst at the bud tip may trigger the formation of a cortical ER network in yeast buds.
PMCID: PMC1483037  PMID: 16624861
6.  Functional specialization within a vesicle tethering complex 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2004;167(5):875-887.
The exocyst is an octameric protein complex required to tether secretory vesicles to exocytic sites and to retain ER tubules at the apical tip of budded cells. Unlike the other five exocyst genes, SEC3, SEC5, and EXO70 are not essential for growth or secretion when either the upstream activator rab, Sec4p, or the downstream SNARE-binding component, Sec1p, are overproduced. Analysis of the suppressed sec3Δ, sec5Δ, and exo70Δ strains demonstrates that the corresponding proteins confer differential effects on vesicle targeting and ER inheritance. Sec3p and Sec5p are more critical than Exo70p for ER inheritance. Although nonessential under these conditions, Sec3p, Sec5p, and Exo70p are still important for tethering, as in their absence the exocyst is only partially assembled. Sec1p overproduction results in increased SNARE complex levels, indicating a role in assembly or stabilization of SNARE complexes. Furthermore, a fraction of Sec1p can be coprecipitated with the exoycst. Our results suggest that Sec1p couples exocyst-mediated vesicle tethering with SNARE-mediated docking and fusion.
PMCID: PMC2172455  PMID: 15583030
7.  Amino Acid Signaling in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: a Permease-Like Sensor of External Amino Acids and F-Box Protein Grr1p Are Required for Transcriptional Induction of the AGP1 Gene, Which Encodes a Broad-Specificity Amino Acid Permease 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(2):989-1001.
The SSY1 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae encodes a member of a large family of amino acid permeases. Compared to the 17 other proteins of this family, however, Ssy1p displays unusual structural features reminiscent of those distinguishing the Snf3p and Rgt2p glucose sensors from the other proteins of the sugar transporter family. We show here that SSY1 is required for transcriptional induction, in response to multiple amino acids, of the AGP1 gene encoding a low-affinity, broad-specificity amino acid permease. Total noninduction of the AGP1 gene in the ssy1Δ mutant is not due to impaired incorporation of inducing amino acids. Conversely, AGP1 is strongly induced by tryptophan in a mutant strain largely deficient in tryptophan uptake, but it remains unexpressed in a mutant that accumulates high levels of tryptophan endogenously. Induction of AGP1 requires Uga35p(Dal81p/DurLp), a transcription factor of the Cys6-Zn2 family previously shown to participate in several nitrogen induction pathways. Induction of AGP1 by amino acids also requires Grr1p, the F-box protein of the SCFGrr1 ubiquitin-protein ligase complex also required for transduction of the glucose signal generated by the Snf3p and Rgt2p glucose sensors. Systematic analysis of amino acid permease genes showed that Ssy1p is involved in transcriptional induction of at least five genes in addition to AGP1. Our results show that the amino acid permease homologue Ssy1p is a sensor of external amino acids, coupling availability of amino acids to transcriptional events. The essential role of Grr1p in this amino acid signaling pathway lends further support to the hypothesis that this protein participates in integrating nutrient availability with the cell cycle.
PMCID: PMC116030  PMID: 9891035

Results 1-7 (7)