The tunneling nanotube (TNT) is a structure used for intercellular communication, and is a thin membrane protrusion mediating transport of various signaling molecules and cellular components. M-Sec has potent membrane deformation ability and induces TNT formation in cooperation with the Ral/exocyst complex. Here, we show that the N-terminal polybasic region of M-Sec directly binds phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-bisphosphate for its localization to the plasma membrane during the initial stage of TNT formation. We further report a crystal structure of M-Sec, which consists of helix bundles arranged in a straight rod-like shape, similar to the membrane tethering complex subunits. A positively charged surface in the C-terminal domains is required for M-Sec interaction with active RalA to extend the plasma membrane protrusions. Our results suggest that the membrane-associated M-Sec recruits active RalA, which directs the exocyst complex to form TNTs.
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