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J Mol Biol. 2005 Feb 18;346(2):589-601. Epub 2004 Dec 24.

Three-dimensional structure of the rSly1 N-terminal domain reveals a conformational change induced by binding to syntaxin 5.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.


Sec1/Mun18-like (SM) proteins and soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) play central roles in intracellular membrane fusion. Diverse modes of interaction between SM proteins and SNAREs from the syntaxin family have been described. However, the observation that the N-terminal domains of Sly1 and Vps45, the SM proteins involved in traffic at the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi, the trans-Golgi network and the endosomes, bind to similar N-terminal sequences of their cognate syntaxins suggested a unifying theme for SM protein/SNARE interactions in most internal membrane compartments. To further understand this mechanism of SM protein/SNARE coupling, we have elucidated the structure in solution of the isolated N-terminal domain of rat Sly1 (rSly1N) and analyzed its complex with an N-terminal peptide of rat syntaxin 5 by NMR spectroscopy. Comparison with the crystal structure of a complex between Sly1p and Sed5p, their yeast homologues, shows that syntaxin 5 binding requires a striking conformational change involving a two-residue shift in the register of the C-terminal beta-strand of rSly1N. This conformational change is likely to induce a significant alteration in the overall shape of full-length rSly1 and may be critical for its function. Sequence analyses indicate that this conformational change is conserved in the Sly1 family but not in other SM proteins, and that the four families represented by the four SM proteins found in yeast (Sec1p, Sly1p, Vps45p and Vps33p) diverged early in evolution. These results suggest that there are marked distinctions between the mechanisms of action of each of the four families of SM proteins, which may have arisen from different regulatory requirements of traffic in their corresponding membrane compartments.

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