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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Feb 5;99(3):1665-70. Epub 2002 Jan 22.

C2A activates a cryptic Ca(2+)-triggered membrane penetration activity within the C2B domain of synaptotagmin I.

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Department of Physiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Synaptotagmin (syt) I, an integral membrane protein localized to secretory vesicles, is a putative Ca(2+) sensor for exocytosis. Its N terminus spans the membrane once, and its cytoplasmic domain contains two conserved C2 domains, designated C2A and C2B. The isolated C2A domain penetrates membranes in response to Ca(2+); isolated C2B does not. Here, we have addressed the function of each C2 domain, but in the context of the intact cytoplasmic domain (C2A-C2B), by using fluorescent reporters placed in the Ca(2+)-binding loops of either C2A or C2B. Surprisingly, these reporters revealed that, analogous to C2A, a Ca(2+)-binding loop in C2B directly penetrates into lipid bilayers. Penetration of each C2 domain was very rapid (k(on) approximately 10(10) M(-1) x s(-1)) and resulted in high affinity C2A-C2B-liposome complexes (K(d) approximately 13-14 nM). C2B-bilayer penetration strictly depended on the presence, but not the membrane binding activity, of an adjacent C2A domain, severing C2A from C2B after protein synthesis abolished the ability of C2B to dip into bilayers in response to Ca(2+). The activation of C2B by C2A was also displayed by the C2 domains of syt III but not the C2 domains of syt IV. A number of proteins contain more than one C2 domain; the findings reported here suggest these domains may harbor cryptic activities that are not detected when they are studied in isolation.

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