Regulated exocytosis enables a range of physiological functions including neurotransmission, and the late steps (i.e., docking, priming and Ca2+
-triggered membrane fusion) are modulated by a highly conserved set of proteins and lipids. Many of the molecular components and biochemical interactions required have been identified; the precise mechanistic steps they modulate and the biochemical interactions that need to occur across steps are still the subject of intense investigation. Particularly, although the involvement of phosphorylation in modulating exocytosis has been intensively investigated over the past three decades, it is unclear which phosphorylation events are a conserved part of the fundamental fusion mechanism and/or serve as part of the physiological fusion machine (e.g., to modulate Ca2+
sensitivity). Here, the homotypic fusion of cortical vesicles was monitored by utilizing new high-throughput, cost-effective assays to assess the influence of 17 small molecule phospho-modulators on docking/priming, Ca2+
sensitivity and membrane fusion. Specific phosphatases and casein kinase 2 are implicated in modulating the Ca2+
sensitivity of fusion, whereas sphingosine kinase is implicated in modulating the ability of vesicles to fuse. These results indicate the presence of multiple kinases and phosphatases on the vesicles and critical phosphorylation sites on vesicle membrane proteins and lipids that directly influence late steps of regulated exocytosis.
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