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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Feb 19;105(7):2580-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0707854105. Epub 2008 Feb 4.

Mast cells possess distinct secretory granule subsets whose exocytosis is regulated by different SNARE isoforms.

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Experimental Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Mast cells degranulate and release the contents of intracellular secretory granules in response to the cross-linking of FcepsilonRI by multivalent antigens. These granules contain a variety of biologically active inflammatory mediators; however, it is not clear whether these granules are homogenous or whether there is heterogeneity within the secretory granule population in mast cells. By using genetically altered mice lacking specific vesicle-associated SNARE membrane fusion proteins, we found that VAMP-8-deficient mast cells exhibited defects in FcepsilonRI-regulated exocytosis, whereas synaptobrevin 2- or VAMP-3-deficient mast cells did not. Surprisingly, the defect in secretion in VAMP-8-deficient mice was limited to the subpopulation of mast cell secretory granules containing serotonin and cathepsin D, whereas regulated exocytosis of secretory granules containing histamine and TNF-alpha was normal. Confocal microscopy confirmed that serotonin and histamine were present in distinct intracellular granules and that most serotonin-containing granules were VAMP-8-positive. Thus, this study demonstrates that mast cells do indeed possess distinct subsets of secretory granules and that these subsets use different SNARE isoforms for exocytosis.

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