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Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2012;28:279-308. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-101011-155818.

The membrane fusion enigma: SNAREs, Sec1/Munc18 proteins, and their accomplices--guilty as charged?

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1
Department of Biophysics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA. jose@arnie.swmed.edu

Abstract

Neurotransmitter release is governed by proteins that have homo-logs in most types of intracellular membrane fusion, including the Sec1/Munc18 protein Munc18-1 and the SNARE proteins syntaxin-1, synaptobrevin/VAMP, and SNAP-25. The SNAREs initiate fusion by forming tight SNARE complexes that bring the vesicle and plasma membranes together. SNARE maintenance in a functional state depends on two chaperone systems (Hsc70/αCSP/SGT and synuclein); defects in these systems lead to neurodegeneration. Munc18-1 binds to an autoinhibitory closed conformation of syntaxin-1, gating formation of SNARE complexes, and also binds to SNARE complexes, which likely underlies the crucial function of Munc18-1 in membrane fusion by an as-yet unclear mechanism. Syntaxin-1 opening is mediated by Munc13s through their MUN domain, which is homologous to diverse tethering factors and may also have a general role in fusion. MUN domain activity is likely modulated in diverse presynaptic plasticity processes that depend on Ca(2+) and RIM proteins, among others.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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