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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jul 28;275(30):22862-7.

The docking of primed vacuoles can be reversibly arrested by excess Sec17p (alpha-SNAP).

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Department of Biochemistry, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755-3844, USA.


Homotypic vacuole fusion occurs in ordered stages of priming, docking, and fusion. Priming, which prepares vacuoles for productive association, requires Sec17p (the yeast homolog of alpha-SNAP), Sec18p (the yeast NSF, an ATP-driven chaperone), and ATP. Sec17p is initially an integral part of the cis-SNARE complex together with vacuolar SNARE proteins and Sec18p (NSF). Previous studies have shown that Sec17p is rapidly released from the vacuole membrane during priming as the cis-SNARE complex is disassembled, but the order and causal relationship of these subreactions has not been known. We now report that the addition of excess recombinant his(6)-Sec17p to primed vacuoles can block subsequent docking. This inhibition is reversible by Sec18p, but the reaction cannot proceed to the tethering and trans-SNARE pairing steps of docking while the Sec17p block is in place. Once docking has occurred, excess Sec17p does not inhibit membrane fusion per se. Incubation of cells with thermosensitive Sec17-1p at nonpermissive temperature causes SNARE complex disassembly. These data suggest that Sec17p can stabilize vacuolar cis-SNARE complexes and that the release of Sec17p by Sec18p and ATP allows disassembly of this complex and activates its components for docking.

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