Loss of MUNC18-1 leads to retrograde transport defects in neurons

Annemiek A. van Berkel, Tatiana C. Santos, Hesho Shaweis, Jan R.T. van Weering, Ruud F. Toonen, Matthijs Verhage*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Loss of the exocytic Sec1/MUNC18 protein MUNC18-1 or its target-SNARE partners SNAP25 and syntaxin-1 results in rapid, cell-autonomous and unexplained neurodegeneration, which is independent of their known role in synaptic vesicle exocytosis. cis-Golgi abnormalities are the earliest cellular phenotypes before degeneration occurs. Here, we investigated whether loss of MUNC18-1 causes defects in intracellular membrane transport pathways in primary murine neurons that may explain neurodegeneration. Electron, confocal and super resolution microscopy confirmed that loss of MUNC18-1 expression results in a smaller cis-Golgi. In addition, we now show that medial-Golgi and the trans-Golgi Network are also affected. However, stacking and cisternae ultrastructure of the Golgi were normal. Overall, ultrastructure of null mutant neurons was remarkably normal just hours before cell death occurred. By synchronizing protein trafficking by conditional cargo retention in the endoplasmic reticulum using selective hooks (RUSH) and immunocytochemistry, we show that anterograde Endoplasmic Reticulum-to-Golgi and Golgi exit of endogenous and exogenous proteins were normal. In contrast, loss of MUNC18-1 caused reduced retrograde Cholera Toxin B-subunit transport from the plasma membrane to the Golgi. In addition, MUNC18-1-deficiency resulted in abnormalities in retrograde TrkB trafficking in an antibody uptake assay. We conclude that MUNC18-1 deficient neurons have normal anterograde but reduced retrograde transport to the Golgi. The impairments in retrograde pathways suggest a role of MUNC18-1 in endosomal SNARE-dependent fusion and provide a plausible explanation for the observed Golgi abnormalities and cell death in MUNC18-1 deficient neurons. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-466
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Cite this