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EMBO J. 2010 Jun 16;29(12):1948-60. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2010.97. Epub 2010 May 14.

HOPS prevents the disassembly of trans-SNARE complexes by Sec17p/Sec18p during membrane fusion.

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Department of Biochemistry, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH, USA.


SNARE-dependent membrane fusion requires the disassembly of cis-SNARE complexes (formed by SNAREs anchored to one membrane) followed by the assembly of trans-SNARE complexes (SNAREs anchored to two apposed membranes). Although SNARE complex disassembly and assembly might be thought to be opposing reactions, the proteins promoting disassembly (Sec17p/Sec18p) and assembly (the HOPS complex) work synergistically to support fusion. We now report that trans-SNARE complexes formed during vacuole fusion are largely associated with Sec17p. Using a reconstituted proteoliposome fusion system, we show that trans-SNARE complex, like cis-SNARE complex, is sensitive to Sec17p/Sec18p mediated disassembly. Strikingly, HOPS inhibits the disassembly of SNARE complexes in the trans-, but not in the cis-, configuration. This selective HOPS preservation of trans-SNARE complexes requires HOPS:SNARE recognition and is lost when the apposed bilayers are dissolved in Triton X-100; it is also observed during fusion of isolated vacuoles. HOPS thus directs the Sec17p/Sec18p chaperone system to maximize functional trans-SNARE complex for membrane fusion, a new role of tethering factors during membrane traffic.

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