The molecular mechanisms underlying early/recycling endosomes-to-TGN transport are still not understood. We identified interactions between the TGN-localized putative t-SNAREs syntaxin 6, syntaxin 16, and Vti1a, and two early/recycling endosomal v-SNAREs, VAMP3/cellubrevin, and VAMP4. Using a novel permeabilized cell system, these proteins were functionally implicated in the post-Golgi retrograde transport step. The function of Rab6a' was also required, whereas its closely related isoform, Rab6a, has previously been implicated in Golgi-to-endoplasmic reticulum transport. Thus, our study shows that membrane exchange between the early endocytic and the biosynthetic/secretory pathways involves specific components of the Rab and SNARE machinery, and suggests that retrograde transport between early/recycling endosomes and the endoplasmic reticulum is critically dependent on the sequential action of two members of the Rab6 subfamily.
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