In this study we show the interaction of N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive fusion protein (NSF) with a small GTP-binding protein, Rab6. NSF is an ATPase involved in the vesicular transport within eukaryotic cells. Using the yeast two-hybrid system, we have isolated new NSF-binding proteins from the rat lung cDNA library. One of them was Rab6, which is involved in the vesicular transport within the Golgi and trans-Golgi network as a Ras-like GTPase. We demonstrated that the N-terminal domain of NSF interacted with the C-terminal domain of Rab6, and these proteins were co-immunoprecipitated from the rat brain extract. This interaction was maintained preferentially in the presence of hydrolysable ATP. Recombinant NSF-His6 can also bind to C-terminal Rab6–glutathione S-transferase under the conditions to allow the ATP hydrolysis. Surprisingly, Rab6 stimulates the ATPase activity of NSF by approx. 2-fold as does α-soluble NSF attachment protein receptor. Anti-Rab6 polyclonal antibodies significantly inhibited the Rab6-stimulated ATPase activity of NSF. Furthermore, we found that Rab3 and Rab4 can also associate with NSF and stimulate its ATPase activity. Taken together, we propose a model in which Rab can form an ATP hydrolysis-regulated complex with NSF, and function as a signalling molecule to deliver the signal of vesicle fusion through the interaction with NSF.

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