Membrane transport carriers fuse with target membranes through engagement of cognate vSNAREs and tSNAREs on each membrane. How vSNAREs are sorted into transport carriers is incompletely understood. Here we show that VAMP7, the vSNARE for fusing endosome-derived tubular transport carriers with maturing melanosomes in melanocytes, is sorted into transport carriers in complex with the tSNARE component STX13. Sorting requires either recognition of VAMP7 by the AP-3δ subunit of AP-3 or of STX13 by the pallidin subunit of BLOC-1, but not both. Consequently, melanocytes expressing both AP-3δ and pallidin variants that cannot bind their respective SNARE proteins are hypopigmented and fail to sort BLOC-1–dependent cargo, STX13, or VAMP7 into transport carriers. However, SNARE binding does not influence BLOC-1 function in generating tubular transport carriers. These data reveal a novel mechanism of vSNARE sorting by recognition of redundant sorting determinants on a SNARE complex by an AP-3–BLOC-1 super-complex.

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