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Mol Biol Cell. 1996 May;7(5):693-701.

Domains of alpha-SNAP required for the stimulation of exocytosis and for N-ethylmalemide-sensitive fusion protein (NSF) binding and activation.

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Physiological Laboratory, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.


The binding of alpha-SNAP to the membrane proteins syntaxin, SNAP-25, and synaptobrevin leads to the recruitment of the N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive fusion protein (NSF). ATP hydrolysis by NSF has been suggested to drive conformational changes in one or more of these membrane proteins that are essential for regulated exocytosis. Functional evidence for a role of alpha-SNAP in exocytosis in adrenal chromaffin cells comes from the ability of this protein to stimulate Ca(2+)-dependent exocytosis in digitonin-permeabilized cells. Here we examine the effect of a series of deletion mutants of alpha-SNAP on exocytosis, and on the ability of alpha-SNAP to interact with NSF, to define essential domains involved in protein-protein interactions in exocytosis. Deletion of extreme N- or C-terminal regions of alpha-SNAP produced proteins unable to bind to syntaxin or to stimulate exocytosis, suggesting that these domains participate in essential interactions. Deletion of C-terminal residues abolished the ability of alpha-SNAP to bind NSF. In contrast, deletion of up to 120 N-terminal residues did not prevent the binding of NSF to immobilized alpha-SNAP and such mutants were also able to stimulate the ATPase activity of NSF. These results suggest that the C-terminus, but not the N-terminus, of alpha-SNAP is crucial for interactions with NSF. The involvement of the C-terminus of alpha-SNAP, which contains a predicted coiled-coil domain, in the binding of both syntaxin and NSF would place the latter two proteins in proximity in a ternary complex whereupon the energy derived from ATP hydrolysis by NSF could induce a conformational change in syntaxin required for exocytosis to proceed.

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