Identification of the Endoplasmic Reticulum Targeting Signal in Vesicle-associated Membrane Proteins
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The vesicle-associated membrane proteins (Vamp(s)) function as soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment receptor proteins in the intracellular trafficking of vesicles. The membrane attachment of Vamps requires a carboxyl-terminal hydrophobic sequence termed an insertion sequence. Unlike other insertion sequence-containing proteins, targeting of the highly homologous Vamp1 and Vamp2 to the endoplasmic reticulum requires ATP and a membrane-bound receptor. To determine if this mechanism of targeting to the endoplasmic reticulum extends to other Vamps, we compared the membrane binding of Vamp1 and Vamp2 with the distantly related Vamp8. Similar to the other Vamps, Vamp8 requires both ATP and a membrane component to target to the endoplasmic reticulum. Furthermore, binding curves for the three Vamps overlap, suggesting a common receptor-mediated process. We identified a minimal endoplasmic reticulum targeting domain that is both necessary and sufficient to confer receptor-mediated, ATP-dependent, binding of a heterologous protein to microsomes. Surprisingly, this conserved sequence includes four positively charged amino acids spaced along an amphipathic sequence, which unlike the carboxyl-terminal targeting sequence in mitochondrial Vamp isoforms, is amino-terminal to the insertion sequence. Because Vamps do not bind to phospholipid vesicles, it is likely that these residues mediate an interaction with a protein, rather than bind to acidic phospholipids. Therefore, we suggest that a bipartite motif is required for the specific targeting and integration of Vamps into the endoplasmic reticulum with receptor-mediated recognition of specifically configured positive residues leading to the insertion of the hydrophobic tail into the membrane.
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