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Summary

Homotypic fusion between early endosomes requires the phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PI3P)-binding protein, Early Endosomal Autoantigen 1 (EEA1). We have investigated the role of other proteins that interact with EEA1 in the fusion of early endosomes derived from Baby Hamster Kidney (BHK) cells. We confirm a requirement for syntaxin 13, but additionally show that the assay is equally sensitive to reagents specifically targeted against syntaxin 6. Binding of EEA1 to immobilised GST-syntaxin 6 and 13 was directly compared; only syntaxin 6 formed a stable complex with EEA1. Early endosome fusion requires the release of intravesicular calcium, and calmodulin plays a vital role in the fusion pathway, as judged by sensitivity to antagonists. We demonstrate that both EEA1 and syntaxin 13 interact with calmodulin. In the case of EEA1, binding to calmodulin requires an IQ domain, which is adjacent to a C-terminal FYVE domain that specifically binds to PI3P. We have assessed the influence of protein binding partners on EEA1 interaction with PI3P and find that both calmodulin and rab5-GTP are antagonistic to PI3P binding, whilst syntaxins 6 and 13 have no effect. These studies reveal a complex network of interactions between the proteins required for endosome fusion.