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J Biol Chem. 2012 Jan 27;287(5):3445-53. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.307439. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

Distinct contributions of vacuolar Qabc- and R-SNARE proteins to membrane fusion specificity.

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Institute for Protein Research, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


In eukaryotic endomembrane systems, Qabc-SNAREs (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors) on one membrane and R-SNARE on the opposing membrane assemble into a trans-QabcR-SNARE complex to drive membrane fusion. However, it remains ambiguous whether pairing of Qabc- and R-SNAREs mediates membrane fusion specificity. Here, we explored the fusion specificity of reconstituted proteoliposomes bearing purified SNAREs in yeast vacuoles and other organelles. We found that not only vacuolar R-SNARE Nyv1p but also the non-cognate R-SNAREs, endosomal Snc2p, and endoplasmic reticulum-Golgi Sec22p caused efficient fusion with vacuolar Qabc-SNAREs. In contrast, their fusion is blocked completely by replacing vacuolar Qc-SNARE Vam7p with the non-cognate endosomal Tlg1p and Syn8p, although these endosomal Qc-SNAREs fully retained the ability to form cis-SNARE complexes with vacuolar SNAREs in solution and on membranes. Thus, our current study establishes that an appropriate assembly of Qabc-SNAREs is crucial for regulating fusion specificity, whereas R-SNARE itself has little contribution to specificity.

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