Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Molecular and Cellular Biology

First Advisor

Charles A. Yeaman

First Committee Member

Kris A DeMali

Second Committee Member

Robert C Piper

Third Committee Member

David R Sheff

Fourth Committee Member

Mark A Stamnes


The Exocyst is a hetero-octameric complex involved in tethering of post-Golgi vesicle transport to sites of membrane expansion. In budding yeast, the Exocyst targets vesicles to bud site resulting in bud emergence and abscission of the daughter cell. Mammalian Exocyst is recruited to developing lateral membranes after cadherin mediated adhesion and then is segregated to adherens junctional complexes (AJC). In polarized epithelia, the Exocyst is required for basal-lateral transport of LDL receptor. Additional Exocyst subunit localizations and functions have been identified. It is not known whether these supplementary roles can be attributed to the Exocyst or other unidentified Exocyst subcomplexes. Sec3, an Exocyst subunit, is hypothesized to be a landmark of polarization in yeast. In polarized epithelia, GFP tagged Sec3 remained cytosolic in polarized epithelia unlike Sec6/8. Sec3-GFP was recruited to lateral membranes only after dual over expression of heterologous GLYT1. Little is known about endogenous mammalian Sec3. Our work suggests Sec3 defines an Exocyst subcomplex that is required for desmosome integrity. Sec3 and additional subunits (Sec6, Sec8, Sec15, Exo70, and Exo84) were present at desmosomes, but Sec3 failed to localize to AJC. Only antibodies to Sec6 and Sec8 labeled AJC. Reduction of Sec3 protein expression resulted in the impairment of desmosome morphology and function with no detrimental effect on adherens junctions. These data suggest the existence of functionally different Exocyst subcomplexes. Sec3-exocyst recruited minus-end directed microtubule motor KifC3 to desmosomes. KifC3 was previously shown to be recruited with a microtubule anchoring complex to basal-lateral membrane. This suggests Sec3 may recruit KifC3 to organize microtubules at desmosomes. This would establish a pathway to efficiently transport newly synthesized basal-lateral cargo. These results suggest a novel mechanism of the Exocyst to regulate post-Golgi vesicular transport and intercellular adhesion.


Cell Adhesion, Desmosome, Exocyst, KifC3, Polarity, Sec3


viii, 139 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 128-139).


Copyright 2009 Nicholas John Andersen

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Cell Biology Commons