Polarized delivery and incorporation of proteins and lipids to specific domains of the plasma membrane is fundamental to a wide range of biological processes such as neuronal synaptogenesis and epithelial cell polarization. The exocyst complex is specifically localized to sites of active exocytosis and plays essential roles in secretory vesicle targeting and docking at the plasma membrane. Sec3p, a component of the exocyst, is thought to be a spatial landmark for polarized exocytosis. In a search for proteins that regulate the localization of the exocyst in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we found that certain cdc42 mutants affect the polarized localization of the exocyst proteins. In addition, we found that these mutant cells have a randomized protein secretion pattern on the cell surface. Biochemical experiments indicated that Sec3p directly interacts with Cdc42 in its GTP-bound form. Genetic studies demonstrated synthetically lethal interactions between cdc42 and several exocyst mutants. These results have revealed a role for Cdc42 in exocytosis. We propose that Cdc42 coordinates the vesicle docking machinery and the actin cytoskeleton for polarized secretion.
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