Common intermediates and kinetics, but different energetics, in the assembly of SNARE proteins

Sylvain Zorman, Aleksander A. Rebane, Lu Ma, Guangcan Yang, Matthew A. Molski, Jeff Coleman, Frederic Pincet, James E. Rothman, Yongli Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) are evolutionarily conserved machines that couple their folding/assembly to membrane fusion. However, it is unclear how these processes are regulated and function. To determine these mechanisms, we characterized the folding energy and kinetics of four representative SNARE complexes at a single-molecule level using high-resolution optical tweezers. We found that all SNARE complexes assemble by the same step-wise zippering mechanism: slow N-terminal domain (NTD) association, a pause in a force-dependent half-zippered intermediate, and fast C-terminal domain (CTD) zippering. The energy release from CTD zippering differs for yeast (13 kBT) and neuronal SNARE complexes (27 kBT), and is concentrated at the C-terminal part of CTD zippering. Thus, SNARE complexes share a conserved zippering pathway and polarized energy release to efficiently drive membrane fusion, but generate different amounts of zippering energy to regulate fusion kinetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere03348
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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