Structural elucidation of how ARF small GTPases induce membrane tubulation for vesicle fission.

Xiaoyun Pang, Yan Zhang, Kunyou Park, Zhenyu Liao, Jian Li, Jiashu Xu, Minh-Triet Hong, Guoliang Yin, Tongming Zhang, Yaoyu Wang, Edward H Egelman, Jun Fan, Seung-Yeol Park, Victor W Hsu, Fei Sun


The ADP-Ribosylation Factor (ARF) small GTPases have been found to act in vesicle fission through a direct ability to tubulate membrane. Here, we have used cryo-electron microscopy (EM) to solve the structure of an ARF6 protein lattice assembled on tubulated membrane to 3.9 Å resolution. ARF6 forms tetramers that polymerize into helical arrays to form this lattice. We identify, and confirm functionally, protein contacts critical for this lattice formation. The solved structure also suggests how the ARF amphipathic helix is positioned in the lattice for membrane insertion, and how a GTPase-activating protein (GAP) docks onto the lattice to catalyze ARF-GTP hydrolysis in completing membrane fission. As ARF1 and ARF6 are structurally conserved, we have also modeled ARF1 onto the ARF6 lattice, which has allowed us to pursue the reconstitution of Coat Protein I (COPI) vesicles to confirm more definitively that the ARF lattice acts in vesicle fission. Our findings are notable for having achieved the first detailed glimpse of how a small GTPase bends membrane and having provided a molecular understanding of how an ARF protein acts in vesicle fission.