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Retinal neurons that form ribbon-style synapses operate over a wide dynamic range, continuously relaying visual information to their downstream targets. The remarkable signaling abilities of these neurons are supported by specialized presynaptic machinery, one component of which is syntaxin3B. Syntaxin3B is an essential t-SNARE protein of photoreceptors and bipolar cells that is required for neurotransmitter release. It has a light-regulated phosphorylation site in its N-terminal domain at T14 that has been proposed to modulate membrane fusion. However, a direct test of the latter has been lacking. Using a well-controlled in vitro fusion assay, we found that a phosphomimetic T14 syntaxin3B mutation leads to a small but significant enhancement of SNARE-mediated membrane fusion following the formation of the t-SNARE complex. While the addition of Munc18a had only a minimal effect on membrane fusion mediated by SNARE complexes containing wild-type syntaxin3B, a more significant enhancement was observed in the presence of Munc18a when the SNARE complexes contained a syntaxin3B T14 phosphomimetic mutant. Finally, we showed that the retinal-specific complexins (Cpx III and Cpx IV) inhibited membrane fusion mediated by syntaxin3B-containing SNARE complexes in a dose-dependent manner. Collectively, our results establish that membrane fusion mediated by syntaxin3B-containing SNARE complexes is regulated by the T14 residue of syntaxin3B, Munc18a, and Cpxs III and IV.


Membrane Fusion, Synapses, Synaptic Transmission, Retina, SNARE Proteins, Protein Binding, STX3B, syntaxin, ribbon synapse, Munc18, complexin



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