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Release of neuronal transmitters from nerve terminals is triggered by the molecular Ca2+ sensor synaptotagmin 1 (Syt1). Syt1 is a transmembrane protein attached to the synaptic vesicle (SV), and its cytosolic region comprises two domains, C2A and C2B, which are thought to penetrate into lipid bilayers upon Ca2+ binding. Before fusion, SVs become attached to the presynaptic membrane (PM) by the four-helical SNARE complex, which is thought to bind the C2B domain in vivo. To understand how the interactions of Syt1 with lipid bilayers and the SNARE complex trigger fusion, we performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations at a microsecond scale. We investigated how the isolated C2 modules and the C2AB tandem of Syt1 interact with membranes mimicking either SV or PM. The simulations showed that the C2AB tandem can either bridge SV and PM or insert into PM with its Ca2+-bound tips and that the latter configuration is more favorable. Surprisingly, C2 domains did not cooperate in penetrating into PM but instead mutually hindered their insertion into the bilayer. To test whether the interaction of Syt1 with lipid bilayers could be affected by the C2B-SNARE attachment, we performed systematic conformational analysis of the C2AB-SNARE complex. Notably, we found that the C2B-SNARE interface precludes the coupling of C2 domains and promotes their insertion into PM. We performed the MD simulations of the prefusion protein complex positioned between the lipid bilayers mimicking PM and SV, and our results demonstrated in silico that the presence of the Ca2+ bound C2AB tandem promotes lipid merging. Altogether, our MD simulations elucidated the role of the Syt1-SNARE interactions in the fusion process and produced the dynamic all-atom model of the prefusion protein-lipid complex. Copyright © 2021 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Maria Bykhovskaia. SNARE complex alters the interactions of the Ca2+ sensor synaptotagmin 1 with lipid bilayers. Biophysical journal. 2021 Feb 16;120(4):642-661

PMID: 33453271

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