The Exocyst Subunit Sec6 Interacts with Assembled Exocytic SNARE Complexes [Membrane Biology]

October 7th, 2015 by Dubuke, M. L., Maniatis, S., Shaffer, S. A., Munson, M.

In eukaryotic cells, membrane-bound vesicles carry cargo between intracellular compartments, to and from the cell surface, and into the extracellular environment. Many conserved families of proteins are required for properly localized vesicle fusion, including the multisubunit tethering complexes (MTCs) and the SNARE complexes. These protein complexes work together to promote proper vesicle fusion in intracellular trafficking pathways. However, the mechanism by which the exocyst, the exocytosis-specific MTC, interacts with the exocytic SNAREs to mediate vesicle targeting and fusion is currently unknown. We previously demonstrated that the Saccharomyces cerevisiae exocyst subunit Sec6 directly bound the plasma membrane SNARE protein Sec9 in vitro and that Sec6 inhibited the assembly of the binary Sso1:Sec9 SNARE complex. Therefore, we hypothesized that the interaction between Sec6 and Sec9 prevented the assembly of premature SNARE complexes at sites of exocytosis. In order to map the determinants of this interaction, we used cross-linking and mass spectrometry analyses to identify residues required for binding. Mutation of residues identified by this approach resulted in a growth defect when introduced into yeast. Contrary to our previous hypothesis, we discovered that Sec6 does not change the rate of SNARE assembly, but rather binds both the binary Sec9:Sso1 and ternary Sec9:Sso1:Snc2 SNARE complex. Together, these results suggest a new model wherein Sec6 promotes SNARE complex assembly, similar to the role proposed for other tether subunit-SNARE interactions.