3 years ago

Morphologies of synaptic protein membrane fusion interfaces [Biophysics and Computational Biology]

Morphologies of synaptic protein membrane fusion interfaces [Biophysics and Computational Biology]
Axel T. Brunger, Radostin Danev, Wolfgang Baumeister, Ying Lai, Preeti Gipson, Dong-Hua Chen, Yoshiyuki Fukuda

Neurotransmitter release is orchestrated by synaptic proteins, such as SNAREs, synaptotagmin, and complexin, but the molecular mechanisms remain unclear. We visualized functionally active synaptic proteins reconstituted into proteoliposomes and their interactions in a native membrane environment by electron cryotomography with a Volta phase plate for improved resolvability. The images revealed individual synaptic proteins and synaptic protein complex densities at prefusion contact sites between membranes. We observed distinct morphologies of individual synaptic proteins and their complexes. The minimal system, consisting of neuronal SNAREs and synaptotagmin-1, produced point and long-contact prefusion states. Morphologies and populations of these states changed as the regulatory factors complexin and Munc13 were added. Complexin increased the membrane separation, along with a higher propensity of point contacts. Further inclusion of the priming factor Munc13 exclusively restricted prefusion states to point contacts, all of which efficiently fused upon Ca2+ triggering. We conclude that synaptic proteins have evolved to limit possible contact site assemblies and morphologies to those that promote fast Ca2+-triggered release.

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