Endocytosis is an essential cellular process that is often hijacked by pathogens and pathogenic products. Endocytic processes can be classified into two broad categories, those that are dependent on clathrin and those that are not. The SNARE proteins VAMP2, VAMP3 and VAMP8 are internalized in a clathrin-dependent manner. However, the full scope of their endocytic behavior has not yet been elucidated. Here, we found that VAMP2, VAMP3 and VAMP8 are localized on plasma membrane invaginations and very early uptake structures that are induced by the bacterial Shiga toxin, which enters cells by clathrin-independent endocytosis. We show that toxin trafficking into cells and cell intoxication rely on these SNARE proteins. Of note, the cellular uptake of VAMP3 is increased in the presence of Shiga toxin, even when clathrin-dependent endocytosis is blocked. We therefore conclude that VAMP2, VAMP3 and VAMP8 are removed from the plasma membrane by non-clathrin-mediated pathways, in addition to by clathrin-dependent uptake. Moreover, our study identifies these SNARE proteins as the first transmembrane trafficking factors that functionally associate at the plasma membrane with the toxin-driven clathrin-independent invaginations during the uptake process.
- Clathrin-independent endocytosis
- Shiga toxin