Molecular evolution of the synapsin gene family

J Exp Zool. 1999 Dec 15;285(4):360-77.


Synapsins, a family of synaptic vesicle proteins, play a crucial role in the regulation of neurotransmission and synaptogenesis. They have been identified in a variety of invertebrate and vertebrate species, including human, rat (Rattus norvegicus), cow (Bos taurus), longfin squid (Loligo pealei), and fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). Here, synapsins were cloned from three additional species: frog (Xenopus laevis), lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis), and nematode (Caenorhabditis elegans). Synapsin protein sequences from all these species were then used to explore the molecular phylogeny of these important neuronal phosphoproteins. The ancestral condition of a single synapsin gene probably gave rise to the vertebrate synapsin gene family comprised of at least three synapsin genes (I, II, and III) in higher vertebrates. Synapsins possess multiple domains, which have evolved at different rates throughout evolution. In invertebrate synapsins, the most conserved domains are C and E. During the evolution of vertebrates, at least two gene duplication events are hypothesized to have given rise to the synapsin gene family. This was accompanied by the emergence of an additional conserved domain, termed A. J. Exp. Zool. ( Mol. Dev. Evol. ) 285:360-377, 1999.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Humans
  • Invertebrates / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity
  • Synapsins / genetics*
  • Vertebrates / genetics


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Synapsins