The synthesis of eukaryotic glycans - branched sugar oligomers attached to cell-surface proteins and lipids - is organised like a factory assembly line. Specific enzymes within successive compartments of the Golgi apparatus determine where new monomer building blocks are linked to the growing oligomer. These enzymes act promiscuously and stochastically, causing microheterogeneity (molecule-to-molecule variability) in the final oligomer products. However, this variability is tightly controlled: a given eukaryotic protein type is typically associated with a narrow, specific glycan oligomer profile. Here we use ideas from the mathematical theory of self-assembly to enumerate the enzymatic causes of oligomer variability, and show how to eliminate each cause. We rigorously demonstrate that cells can specifically synthesize a larger repertoire of glycan oligomers by partitioning promiscuous enzymes across multiple Golgi compartments. This places limits on biomolecular assembly: glycan microheterogeneity becomes unavoidable when the number of compartments is limited, or enzymes are excessively promiscuous.
Matlab source code has been provided for generating plots in Figure 2B.
- Mukund Thattai
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Patricia Bassereau, Institut Curie, France
© 2020, Jaiman & Thattai
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
SNAP25 is one of three neuronal SNAREs driving synaptic vesicle exocytosis. We studied three mutations in SNAP25 that cause epileptic encephalopathy: V48F, and D166Y in the synaptotagmin-1 (Syt1)-binding interface, and I67N, which destabilizes the SNARE complex. All three mutations reduced Syt1-dependent vesicle docking to SNARE-carrying liposomes and Ca2+-stimulated membrane fusion in vitro and when expressed in mouse hippocampal neurons. The V48F and D166Y mutants (with potency D166Y > V48F) led to reduced readily releasable pool (RRP) size, due to increased spontaneous (miniature Excitatory Postsynaptic Current, mEPSC) release and decreased priming rates. These mutations lowered the energy barrier for fusion and increased the release probability, which are gain-of-function features not found in Syt1 knockout (KO) neurons; normalized mEPSC release rates were higher (potency D166Y > V48F) than in the Syt1 KO. These mutations (potency D166Y > V48F) increased spontaneous association to partner SNAREs, resulting in unregulated membrane fusion. In contrast, the I67N mutant decreased mEPSC frequency and evoked EPSC amplitudes due to an increase in the height of the energy barrier for fusion, whereas the RRP size was unaffected. This could be partly compensated by positive charges lowering the energy barrier. Overall, pathogenic mutations in SNAP25 cause complex changes in the energy landscape for priming and fusion.
Intracellular levels of the amino acid aspartate are responsive to changes in metabolism in mammalian cells and can correspondingly alter cell function, highlighting the need for robust tools to measure aspartate abundance. However, comprehensive understanding of aspartate metabolism has been limited by the throughput, cost, and static nature of the mass spectrometry (MS)-based measurements that are typically employed to measure aspartate levels. To address these issues, we have developed a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-based sensor of aspartate (jAspSnFR3), where the fluorescence intensity corresponds to aspartate concentration. As a purified protein, the sensor has a 20-fold increase in fluorescence upon aspartate saturation, with dose-dependent fluorescence changes covering a physiologically relevant aspartate concentration range and no significant off target binding. Expressed in mammalian cell lines, sensor intensity correlated with aspartate levels measured by MS and could resolve temporal changes in intracellular aspartate from genetic, pharmacological, and nutritional manipulations. These data demonstrate the utility of jAspSnFR3 and highlight the opportunities it provides for temporally resolved and high-throughput applications of variables that affect aspartate levels.