The neuronal calcium sensor synaptotagmin-1 and snare proteins cooperate to dilate fusion pores

Zhenyong Wu, Nadiv Dharan, Zachary A. McDargh, Sathish Thiyagarajan, Ben O’shaughnessy, Erdem Karatekin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


All membrane fusion reactions proceed through an initial fusion pore, including calcium-triggered release of neurotransmitters and hormones. Expansion of this small pore to release cargo is energetically costly and regulated by cells, but the mechanisms are poorly understood. Here we show that the neuronal/exocytic calcium sensor Synaptotagmin-1 (Syt1) promotes expansion of fusion pores induced by SNARE proteins. Pore dilation relied on calcium-induced insertion of the tandem C2 domain hydrophobic loops of Syt1 into the membrane, previously shown to reorient the C2 domain. Mathematical modelling suggests that C2B reorientation rotates a bound SNARE complex so that it exerts force on the membranes in a mechanical lever action that increases the height of the fusion pore, provoking pore dilation to offset the bending energy penalty. We conclude that Syt1 exerts novel non-local calciumdependent mechanical forces on fusion pores that dilate pores and assist neurotransmitter and hormone release.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere68215
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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