Sec12p is an integral membrane protein required in vivo and in vitro for the formation of transport vesicles generated from the ER. Vesicle budding and protein transport from ER membranes containing normal levels of Sec12p is inhibited in vitro by addition of microsomes isolated from a Sec12p-overproducing strain. Inhibition is attributable to titration of a limiting cytosolic protein. This limitation is overcome by addition of a highly enriched fraction of soluble Sar1p, a small GTP-binding protein, shown previously to be essential for protein transport from the ER and whose gene has been shown to interact genetically with sec12. Furthermore, Sar1p binding to isolated membranes is enhanced at elevated levels of Sec12p. Sar1p-Sec12p interaction may regulate the initiation of vesicle budding from the ER.

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