SNARE proteins have been described as the effectors of fusion events in the secretory pathway more than two decades ago. The strong interactions between SNARE-domains are clearly important in membrane fusion, but it is unclear whether they are involved in any other cellular processes. Here, we analyzed two classical SNARE proteins, syntaxin 1A and SNAP25. Although they are supposed to be engaged in tight complexes, we surprisingly find them largely segregated in the plasma membrane. Syntaxin 1A only occupies a small fraction of the plasma membrane area. Yet, we find it is able to redistribute the far more abundant SNAP25 on the mesoscale by gathering crowds of SNAP25 molecules onto syntaxin-clusters in a SNARE-domain dependent manner. Our data suggests that SNARE-domain interactions are not only involved in driving membrane fusion on the nanoscale, but also play an important role in controlling the general organization of proteins on the mesoscale. Further, we propose this mechanisms preserves active syntaxin 1A-SNAP25 complexes at the plasma membrane.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Thorsten Lang
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Axel T Brunger, Stanford University School of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, United States
© 2021, Mertins et al.
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.
Activation of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is an allosteric process. It involves conformational coupling between the orthosteric ligand binding site and the G protein binding site. Factors that bind at non-cognate ligand binding sites to alter the allosteric activation process are classified as allosteric modulators and represent a promising class of therapeutics with distinct modes of binding and action. For many receptors, how modulation of signaling is represented at the structural level is unclear. Here, we developed FRET sensors to quantify receptor modulation at each of the three structural domains of metabotropic glutamate receptor 2 (mGluR2). We identified the conformational fingerprint for several allosteric modulators in live cells. This approach enabled us to derive a receptor-centric representation of allosteric modulation and to correlate structural modulation to the standard signaling modulation metrics. Single-molecule FRET analysis revealed that a NAM increases the occupancy of one of the intermediate states while a PAM increases the occupancy of the active state. Moreover, we found that the effect of allosteric modulators on the receptor dynamics is complex and depend on the orthosteric ligand. Collectively, our findings provide a structural mechanism of allosteric modulation in mGluR2 and suggest possible strategies for design of future modulators.
Cataract is one of the most prevalent protein aggregation disorders and still the most common cause of vision loss worldwide. The metabolically quiescent core region of the human lens lacks cellular or protein turnover; it has therefore evolved remarkable mechanisms to resist light-scattering protein aggregation for a lifetime. We now report that one such mechanism involves an unusually abundant lens metabolite, myo-inositol, suppressing aggregation of lens crystallins. We quantified aggregation suppression using our previously well-characterized in vitro aggregation assays of oxidation-mimicking human γD-crystallin variants and investigated myo-inositol’s molecular mechanism of action using solution NMR, negative-stain TEM, differential scanning fluorometry, thermal scanning Raman spectroscopy, turbidimetry in redox buffers, and free thiol quantitation. Unlike many known chemical chaperones, myo-inositol’s primary target was not the native, unfolded, or final aggregated states of the protein; rather, we propose that it was the rate-limiting bimolecular step on the aggregation pathway. Given recent metabolomic evidence that it is severely depleted in human cataractous lenses compared to age-matched controls, we suggest that maintaining or restoring healthy levels of myo-inositol in the lens may be a simple, safe, and globally accessible strategy to prevent or delay lens opacification due to age-onset cataract.