The endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT) pathway mediates cellular membrane remodeling and fission reactions. The pathway comprises five core complexes: ALIX, ESCRT-I, ESCRT-II, ESCRT-III, and Vps4. These soluble complexes are typically recruited to target membranes by site-specific adaptors that bind one or both of the early-acting ESCRT factors: ALIX and ESCRT-I/ESCRT-II. These factors, in turn, nucleate assembly of ESCRT-III subunits into membrane-bound filaments that recruit the AAA ATPase Vps4. Together, ESCRT-III filaments and Vps4 remodel and sever membranes. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of the structures, activities, and mechanisms of the ESCRT-III and Vps4 machinery, including the first high-resolution structures of ESCRT-III filaments, the assembled Vps4 enzyme in complex with an ESCRT-III substrate, the discovery that ESCRT-III/Vps4 complexes can promote both inside-out and outside-in membrane fission reactions, and emerging mechanistic models for ESCRT-mediated membrane fission.
Keywords: AAA ATPase; ESCRT pathway; ESCRT-III; Vps4; membrane fission; membrane remodeling.