NMR analysis of the closed conformation of syntaxin-1

Xiaocheng Chen, Jun Lu, Irina Dulubova, Jose Rizo-Rey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The Sec1/Munc18 (SM) protein Munc18-1 and the SNAREs syntaxin-1, SNAP-25 and synaptobrevin form the core of the membrane fusion machinery that triggers neurotransmitter release. Munc18-1 binds to syntaxin-1 folded into a closed conformation and to the SNARE complex formed by the three SNAREs, which involves an open syntaxin-1 conformation. The former interaction is likely specialized for neurotransmitter release, whereas SM protein/SNARE complex interactions are likely key for all types of intracellular membrane fusion. It is currently unclear whether the closed conformation is highly or only marginally populated in isolated syntaxin-1, and whether Munc18-1 stabilizes the close conformation or helps to open it to facilitate SNARE complex formation. A detailed NMR analysis now suggests that the closed conformation is almost quantitatively populated in isolated syntaxin-1 in the absence of oligomerization, and indicates that its structure is very similar to that observed previously in the crystal structure of the Munc18-1/ syntaxin-1 complex. Moreover, we demonstrate that Munc18-1 binding prevents opening of the syntaxin-1 closed conformation. These results support a model whereby the closed conformation constitutes a key intrinsic property of isolated syntaxin-1 and Munc18-1 binding stabilizes this conformation; in this model, Munc18-1 plays in addition an active role in downstream events after another factor(s) helps to open the syntaxin-1 conformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of biomolecular NMR
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Conformational exchange
  • Membrane traffic
  • Munc18
  • Neurotransmitter release
  • Syntaxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Spectroscopy


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