Over the last 4.5 years of this Merit award (R37 MH63105) we have achieved a number of milestones: (1) the development of a single vesicle fusion assay that mimics certain properties of spontaneous and calcium triggered vesicle fusion observed in neuronal cultures; (2) the atomic resolution structure of the complex between the calcium sensor synaptotagmin-1 and the neuronal SNARE complex, revealing an unexpected calcium-independent interface that we believe forms the foundation for the process of calcium-triggered synaptic vesicle fusion; (3) the near-atomic resolution structure of the complex between NSF, SNAPs, and SNAREs that has revealed clues how NSF is capable of disassembling the SNARE complex. Moreover, we have studied the molecular mechanism of complexin-1 and Munc18. We found that complexin-1 inhibits spontaneous release and activates calcium-triggered vesicle fusion in our synthetic system, consistent with complexin's function as observed in neuronal cultures. However, we found no effect of Munc18 on intrinsic fusion rates, suggesting that its primary function is to facilitate SNARE complex formation.
The specific aims for the next 5 year period are as follows: (1) Decipher the molecular mechanism of NSF-mediated SNARE disassembly. We plan to determine structures of NSF and of the complex of NSF, SNAREs and SNAPs upon hydrolyzing ATP by using single- particle cryo-EM. (2) Study how complexin and synaptotagmin-1 cooperate in fast synchronous release. Our recent work revealed a conserved, calcium-independent interface between synaptotagmin-1 and the neuronal SNARE complex. Following up on this result, we plan to investigate the interplay between synaptotagmin-1, and complexin-1, and the neuronal SNARE complex at the atomic level. We plan to crystalize this supercomplex, along with functional studies in neuronal cultures in order to test the new interfaces that we may discover in the crystal structure. (3) Investigate the role of Munc13. We will test the hypothesis that Munc13 is a facilitator for efficient SNARE complex formation. (4) Establish a hybrid fusion assay to study the fusion kinetics of purified endogenous synaptic vesicles obtained from mice brains. We will extend our single vesicle fusion assay to use purified synaptic vesicles in combination with synthetic plasma membrane mimicking ?acceptor? vesicles. We hypothesize that different pools of synaptic vesicles may result in different fusion kinetics.

Public Health Relevance

Our long-term goal is to uncover the molecular mechanisms of synaptic vesicle fusion and how it is regulated by several factors known to play important roles in the process. It is known that the synaptic vesicle fusion machinery is influenced by certain neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, so understanding the molecular details of the release machinery may lead to new therapeutics that act on the release machinery itself. Moreover, our studies may clarify the interactions between proteins that are related to human disease and the neurotransmitter release machinery.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
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Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
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Driscoll, Jamie
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Stanford University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Brunger, Axel T; Leitz, Jeremy; Zhou, Qiangjun et al. (2018) Ca2+-Triggered Synaptic Vesicle Fusion Initiated by Release of Inhibition. Trends Cell Biol 28:631-645
White, K Ian; Zhao, Minglei; Choi, Ucheor B et al. (2018) Structural principles of SNARE complex recognition by the AAA+ protein NSF. Elife 7:
Choi, Ucheor B; Zhao, Minglei; White, K Ian et al. (2018) NSF-mediated disassembly of on- and off-pathway SNARE complexes and inhibition by complexin. Elife 7:
Zhou, Qiangjun; Zhou, Peng; Wang, Austin L et al. (2017) The primed SNARE-complexin-synaptotagmin complex for neuronal exocytosis. Nature 548:420-425
Wang, Shen; Choi, Ucheor B; Gong, Jihong et al. (2017) Conformational change of syntaxin linker region induced by Munc13s initiates SNARE complex formation in synaptic exocytosis. EMBO J 36:816-829
Lai, Ying; Choi, Ucheor B; Leitz, Jeremy et al. (2017) Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Vesicle Priming by Munc13 and Munc18. Neuron 95:591-607.e10
Gipson, Preeti; Fukuda, Yoshiyuki; Danev, Radostin et al. (2017) Morphologies of synaptic protein membrane fusion interfaces. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:9110-9115
Choi, Ucheor B; Zhao, Minglei; Zhang, Yunxiang et al. (2016) Complexin induces a conformational change at the membrane-proximal C-terminal end of the SNARE complex. Elife 5:
Gong, Jihong; Lai, Ying; Li, Xiaohong et al. (2016) C-terminal domain of mammalian complexin-1 localizes to highly curved membranes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113:E7590-E7599
Zhao, Minglei; Brunger, Axel T (2016) Recent Advances in Deciphering the Structure and Molecular Mechanism of the AAA+ ATPase N-Ethylmaleimide-Sensitive Factor (NSF). J Mol Biol 428:1912-26

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