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J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 26;286(34):29627-34. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.265199. Epub 2011 Jul 6.

Vesicle-associated membrane protein 8 (VAMP8) is a SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) selectively required for sequential granule-to-granule fusion.

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  • 1School of Biomedical Science, University of Queensland, QLD, Australia.


Compound exocytosis is found in many cell types and is the major form of regulated secretion in acinar and mast cells. Its key characteristic is the homotypic fusion of secretory granules. These then secrete their combined output through a single fusion pore to the outside. The control of compound exocytosis remains poorly understood. Although soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) such as syntaxin 2, SNAP23 (synaptosome-associated protein of 23 kDa), and SNAP25 have been suggested to play a role, none has been proven. Vesicle-associated membrane protein 8 (VAMP8) is a SNARE first associated with endocytic processes but more recently has been suggested as an R-SNARE in regulated exocytosis. Secretion in acinar cells is reduced when VAMP8 function is inhibited and is less in VAMP8 knock-out mice. Based on electron microscopy experiments, it was suggested that VAMP8 may be involved in compound exocytosis. Here we have tested the hypothesis that VAMP8 controls homotypic granule-to-granule fusion during sequential compound exocytosis. We use a new assay to distinguish primary fusion events (fusion with the cell membrane) from secondary fusion events (granule-granule fusion). Our data show the pancreatic acinar cells from VAMP8 knock-out animals have a specific reduction in secondary granule fusion but that primary granule fusion is unaffected. Furthermore, immunoprecipitation experiments show syntaxin 2 association with VAMP2, whereas syntaxin 3 associates with VAMP8. Taken together our data indicate that granule-to-granule fusion is regulated by VAMP8 containing SNARE complexes distinct from those that regulate primary granule fusion.

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