Intracellular membrane fusion is mediated by the SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) proteins that are highly conserved and tightly regulated by a variety of factors. The exocyst complex is one of the multi-subunit tethering complexes and functions in the tethering of the secretory vesicles to the plasma membrane. We have found that the yeast Sec3, a subunit of the exocyst, binds to the t-SNARE protein Sso2 and promotes its interaction with another t-SNARE protein, Sec9. Here, we describe the structural analysis and in vitro membrane fusion assays, by which we found that Sec3 binding leads to a conformational change within Sso2, and facilitates SNARE assembly and the membrane fusion.
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We thank Shelby Wilkinson for helpful suggestions. We also thank the Gang Dong lab for solving the structure of the Sec3N-Sso2 complex. The work in W. G. lab is supported by National Institutes of Health R01 grant GM111128.
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