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Cell Logist. 2011 May;1(3):111-117.

Metazoan cell biology of the HOPS tethering complex.

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  • 1Graduate Program in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology; Emory University; Atlanta, GA USA.


Membrane fusion with vacuoles, the lysosome equivalent of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is among the best understood membrane fusion events. Our precise understanding of this fusion machinery stems from powerful genetics and elegant in vitro reconstitution assays. Central to vacuolar membrane fusion is the multi-subunit tether the HO motypic fusion and Protein Sorting (HOPS) complex, a complex of proteins that organizes other necessary components of the fusion machinery. We lack a similarly detailed molecular understanding of membrane fusion with lysosomes or lysosome-related organelles in metazoans. However, it is likely that fundamental principles of how rabs, SNAREs and HOPS tethers work to fuse membranes with lysosomes and related organelles are conserved between Saccharomyces cerevisiae and metazoans. Here, we discuss emerging differences in the coat-dependent mechanisms that govern HOPS complex subcellular distribution between Saccharomyces cerevisiae and metazoans. These differences reside upstream of the membrane fusion event. We propose that the differences in how coats segregate class C Vps/HOPS tethers to organelles and domains of metazoan cells are adaptations to complex architectures that characterize metazoan cells such as those of neuronal and epithelial tissues.

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