Proper cell function and avoidance of disease requires subcellular targeting and fusion of transport vesicles with acceptor membranes. Vesicle coats, rabs, tethers and SNAREs make up the core of the vesicle trafficking machinery for the endomembrane system. Although the primary point of function of each of these protein families is established, new functional roles at unexpected steps, and new regulatory interactions linking and integrating their functions continue to emerge. In mammals, ER-to-Golgi transport, which represents the rate-limiting step in the secretory pathway and the step most relevant to transport-related diseases, has been extensively characterized in vivo and reconstituted in vitro. In broad terms, ER-to-Golgi transport has been shown to comprise: 1) cargo sorting and vesicle budding mediated by the COPII coat;2) homotypic COPII vesicle tethering mediated by rab1, p115 and TRAPP1, and fusion mediated by ER/Golgi SNAREs to form pre-Golgi organelles called vesicular tubular clusters (VTCs);and 3) VTC-mediated cargo sorting and transport along microtubules leading to fusion with the Golgi. This project will employ live cell Ca2+ measurements, kinetic assays of ER/Golgi transport in intact mammalian cell lines and in vitro reconstitution of transport phenomena from subcellular fractions to dissect the roles of luminal Ca2+, the Ca2+ sensor ALG-2 and the COPII coat in specific stages of this pathway. The studies are motivated by the broad guiding hypotheses that luminal Ca2+ escaping from pre- Golgi secretory organelles interacts with and regulates the trafficking machinery, significantly impacting cargo transport and/or sorting. The proposed experiments fall under three specific aims: 1) Test the hypothesis that luminal Ca2+ concentrations drop dramatically between the ER and the intermediate compartment. 2) Test the hypothesis that ALG-2 and sec31A transduce the luminal Ca2+ signal to regulate multiple steps in VTC formation and function. 3) Identify Ca2+ targets on COPII vesicles.

Public Health Relevance

Multiple diseases, including severe neuropathies, result from improper trafficking of secretory proteins in ER-to-Golgi transport. Vesicular tubular clusters (VTCs), a key sorting and transport organelle in transport, have recently been implicated in the biogenesis of viral particles including SARS and poliovirus, and in other functions. The human bleeding disorder combined deficiency of coagulation factor V and VIII (F5F8D) is caused by failure of a luminal Ca2+-dependent sorting event that occurs in ER exit sites and VTCs, and Hailey-Hailey disease is caused by disruption of unknown luminal Ca2+-dependent events in the early secretory pathway. A firm mechanistic understanding of cargo sorting and membrane trafficking and their regulation by luminal Ca2+ during ER-to-Golgi transport is central to an understanding of many transport- related pathologies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Nuclear and Cytoplasmic Structure/Function and Dynamics Study Section (NCSD)
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Ainsztein, Alexandra M
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University of Montana
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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