The Juxta-Membrane Linker of Full-Length Synaptotagmin 1 Controls Oligomerization and Calcium-Dependent Membrane Binding [Neurobiology]

June 27th, 2014 by Lu, B., Kiessling, V., Tamm, L. K., Cafiso, D. S.

Synaptotagmin 1 (Syt1) is the calcium sensor for synchronous neurotransmitter release. The two C2 domains of Syt1, which may mediate fusion by bridging the vesicle and plasma membranes, are connected to the vesicle membrane by a 60 residue linker. Here, we use site-directed spin labeling and a novel total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) vesicle binding assay to characterize the juxta-membrane linker and to test the ability of reconstituted full-length Syt1 to interact with opposing membrane surfaces. EPR spectroscopy demonstrates that the majority of the linker interacts with the membrane interface, thereby limiting the extension of the C2A and C2B domains into the cytoplasm. Pulse dipolar EPR spectroscopy provides evidence that purified full-length Syt1 is oligomerized in the membrane, and mutagenesis indicates that a glycine zipper/GXXXG motif within the linker helps mediate oligomerization. The TIRF-based vesicle binding assay demonstrates that full-length Syt1 that is reconstituted into supported lipid bilayers will capture vesicles containing negatively charged lipid in a Ca2+-dependent manner. Moreover, the rate of vesicle capture increases with Syt1 density, and mutations in the GXXXG motif that inhibit oligomerization of Syt1 reduce the rate of vesicle capture. This work demonstrates that modifications within the 60 residue linker modulate both the oligomerization of Syt1 and its ability to interact with opposing bilayers. In addition to controlling its activity, the oligomerization of Syt1 may play a role in organizing proteins within the active zone of membrane fusion.