The SNAP-25 linker as an adaptation toward fast exocytosis.
Nagy G., Milosevic I., Mohrmann R., Wiederhold K., Walter AM., Sørensen JB.
The assembly of four soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor domains into a complex is essential for membrane fusion. In most cases, the four SNARE-domains are encoded by separate membrane-targeted proteins. However, in the exocytotic pathway, two SNARE-domains are present in one protein, connected by a flexible linker. The significance of this arrangement is unknown. We characterized the role of the linker in SNAP-25, a neuronal SNARE, by using overexpression techniques in synaptosomal-associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25) null mouse chromaffin cells and fast electrophysiological techniques. We confirm that the palmitoylated linker-cysteines are important for membrane association. A SNAP-25 mutant without cysteines supported exocytosis, but the fusion rate was slowed down and the fusion pore duration prolonged. Using chimeric proteins between SNAP-25 and its ubiquitous homologue SNAP-23, we show that the cysteine-containing part of the linkers is interchangeable. However, a stretch of 10 hydrophobic and charged amino acids in the C-terminal half of the SNAP-25 linker is required for fast exocytosis and in its absence the calcium dependence of exocytosis is shifted toward higher concentrations. The SNAP-25 linker therefore might have evolved as an adaptation toward calcium triggering and a high rate of execution of the fusion process, those features that distinguish exocytosis from other membrane fusion pathways.