Close membrane-membrane proximity induced by Ca(2+)-dependent multivalent binding of synaptotagmin-1 to phospholipids

Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2006 Mar;13(3):209-17. doi: 10.1038/nsmb1056. Epub 2006 Feb 19.


Synaptotagmin acts as a Ca(2+) sensor in neurotransmitter release through its two C(2) domains. Ca(2+)-dependent phospholipid binding is key for synaptotagmin function, but it is unclear how this activity cooperates with the SNARE complex involved in release or why Ca(2+) binding to the C(2)B domain is more crucial for release than Ca(2+) binding to the C(2)A domain. Here we show that Ca(2+) induces high-affinity simultaneous binding of synaptotagmin to two membranes, bringing them into close proximity. The synaptotagmin C(2)B domain is sufficient for this ability, which arises from the abundance of basic residues around its surface. We propose a model wherein synaptotagmin cooperates with the SNAREs in bringing the synaptic vesicle and plasma membranes together and accelerates membrane fusion through the highly positive electrostatic potential of its C(2)B domain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / pharmacology*
  • Liposomes / chemistry
  • Liposomes / metabolism
  • Membrane Fusion / drug effects*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*
  • Pliability
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Rats
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Synaptic Vesicles / drug effects
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism
  • Synaptotagmins / chemistry
  • Synaptotagmins / metabolism*


  • Liposomes
  • Phospholipids
  • Synaptotagmins
  • Calcium