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J Biol Chem. 2010 Oct 1;285(40):30759-66. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.137745. Epub 2010 Aug 5.

Rat and Drosophila synaptotagmin 4 have opposite effects during SNARE-catalyzed membrane fusion.

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Department of Physiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Synaptotagmins (Syt) are a large family of proteins that regulate membrane traffic in neurons and other cell types. One isoform that has received considerable attention is SYT4, with apparently contradictory reports concerning the function of this isoform in fruit flies and mice. SYT4 was reported to function as a negative regulator of neurotrophin secretion in mouse neurons and as a positive regulator of secretion of a yet to be identified growth factor from muscle cells in flies. Here, we have directly compared the biochemical and functional properties of rat and fly SYT4. We report that rat SYT4 inhibited SNARE-catalyzed membrane fusion in both the absence and presence of Ca(2+). In marked contrast, fly SYT4 stimulated SNARE-mediated membrane fusion in response to Ca(2+). Analysis of chimeric molecules, isolated C2 domains, and point mutants revealed that the C2B domain of the fly protein senses Ca(2+) and is sufficient to stimulate fusion. Rat SYT4 was able to stimulate fusion in response to Ca(2+) when the conserved Asp-to-Ser Ca(2+) ligand substitution in its C2A domain was reversed. In summary, rat SYT4 serves as an inhibitory isoform, whereas fly SYT4 is a bona fide Ca(2+) sensor capable of coupling Ca(2+) to membrane fusion.

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