A key issue for understanding exocytosis is elucidating the various protein interactions and the associated conformational transitions underlying soluble N-ethylmeleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) protein assembly. To monitor dynamic changes in syntaxin 1A (Syx) conformation along exocytosis, we constructed a novel fluorescent Syx-based probe that can be efficiently incorporated within endogenous SNARE complexes, support exocytosis, and report shifts in Syx between 'closed' and 'open' conformations by fluorescence resonance energy transfer analysis. Using this probe we resolve two distinct Syx conformational transitions during membrane depolarization-induced exocytosis in PC12 cells: a partial 'opening' in the absence of Ca2+ entry and an additional 'opening' upon Ca2+ entry. The Ca2+-dependent transition is abolished upon neutralization of the basic charges in the juxtamembrane regions of Syx, which also impairs exocytosis. These novel findings provide evidence of two conformational transitions in Syx during exocytosis, which have not been reported before: one transition directly induced by depolarization and an additional transition that involves the juxtamembrane region of Syx. The superior sensitivity of our probe also enabled detection of subtle Syx conformational changes upon interaction with VAMP2, which were absolutely dependent on the basic charges of the juxtamembrane region. Hence, our results further suggest that the Ca2+-dependent transition in Syx involves zippering between the membrane-proximal juxtamembrane regions of Syx and VAMP2 and support the recently implied existence of this zippering in the final phase of SNARE assembly to catalyze exocytosis.
- PC12 cells
- Syntaxin 1A