Synaptotagmin-1–, Munc18-1–, and Munc13-1–dependent liposome fusion with a few neuronal SNAREs

Karolina P. Stepien, Josep Rizo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Neurotransmitter release is governed by eight central proteins among other factors: the neuronal SNAREs syntaxin-1, synaptobrevin, and SNAP-25, which form a tight SNARE complex that brings the synaptic vesicle and plasma membranes together; NSF and SNAPs, which disassemble SNARE complexes; Munc18-1 and Munc13-1, which organize SNARE complex assembly; and the Ca2+ sensor synaptotagmin-1. Reconstitution experiments revealed that Munc18-1, Munc13-1, NSF, and α-SNAP can mediate Ca2+-dependent liposome fusion between synaptobrevin liposomes and syntaxin-1–SNAP-25 liposomes, but high fusion efficiency due to uncontrolled SNARE complex assembly did not allow investigation of the role of synaptotagmin-1 on fusion. Here, we show that decreasing the synaptobrevin-to-lipid ratio in the corresponding liposomes to very low levels leads to inefficient fusion and that synaptotagmin-1 strongly stimulates fusion under these conditions. Such stimulation depends on Ca2+ binding to the two C2 domains of synaptotagmin-1. We also show that anchoring SNAP-25 on the syntaxin-1 liposomes dramatically enhances fusion. Moreover, we uncover a synergy between synaptotagmin-1 and membrane anchoring of SNAP-25, which allows efficient Ca2+dependent fusion between liposomes bearing very low synaptobrevin densities and liposomes containing very low syntaxin-1 densities. Thus, liposome fusion in our assays is achieved with a few SNARE complexes in a manner that requires Munc18-1 and Munc13-1 and that depends on Ca2+ binding to synaptotagmin-1, all of which are fundamental features of neurotransmitter release in neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019314118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 26 2021


  • Membrane fusion
  • Neurotransmitter release
  • Reconstitution
  • Synaptic vesicle fusion
  • Synaptotagmin-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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