A structural role for the synaptobrevin 2 transmembrane domain in dense-core vesicle fusion pores

J Neurosci. 2015 Apr 8;35(14):5772-80. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3983-14.2015.


Ca(2+)-triggered release of neurotransmitters and hormones depends on soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) to drive the fusion of the vesicle and plasma membranes. The formation of the SNARE complex by the vesicle SNARE synaptobrevin 2 (syb2) and the two plasma membrane SNAREs syntaxin (syx) and SNAP-25 draws the two membranes together, but the events that follow membrane juxtaposition, and the ways that SNAREs remodel lipid membranes remain poorly understood. The SNAREs syx and syb2 have transmembrane domains (TMDs) that can exert force directly on the lipid bilayers. The TMD of syx influences fusion pore flux in a manner that suggests it lines the nascent fusion pore through the plasma membrane. The TMD of syb2 traverses the vesicle membrane and is the most likely partner to syx in completing a proteinaceous fusion pore through the vesicle membrane, but the role of this vesicle SNARE in fusion pores has yet to be tested. Here amperometry and conductance measurements were performed to probe the function of the syb2 TMD in fusion pores formed during catecholamine exocytosis in mouse chromaffin cells. Fusion pore flux was sensitive to the size and charge of TMD residues near the N terminus; fusion pore conductance was altered by substitutions at these sites. Unlike syx, the syb2 residues that influence fusion pore permeation fell along two α-helical faces of its TMD, rather than one. These results indicate a role for the syb2 TMD in nascent fusion pores, but in a very different structural arrangement from that of the syx TMD.

Keywords: calcium-triggered fusion; dense-core vesicle; exocytosis; secretion; synaptobrevin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / genetics
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Chromaffin Cells
  • Exocytosis / drug effects
  • Exocytosis / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neuropeptide Y / genetics
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism
  • Potassium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs / genetics
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins / chemistry
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins / genetics
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins / metabolism
  • Secretory Vesicles / drug effects
  • Secretory Vesicles / genetics*
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism
  • Transfection
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 2 / chemistry*
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 2 / genetics
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 2 / metabolism*


  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 2
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Potassium Chloride
  • Calcium

Associated data

  • PDB/2KOG