Structure and function of SNARE and SNARE-interacting proteins

Q Rev Biophys. 2005 Feb;38(1):1-47. doi: 10.1017/S0033583505004051. Epub 2005 Dec 9.


This review focuses on the so-called SNARE (soluble N-ethyl maleimide sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) proteins that are involved in exocytosis at the pre-synpatic plasma membrane. SNAREs play a role in docking and fusion of synaptic vesicles to the active zone, as well as in the Ca2+-triggering step itself, most likely in combination with the Ca2+ sensor synaptotagmin. Different SNARE domains are involved in different processes, such as regulation, docking, and fusion. SNAREs exhibit multiple configurational, conformational, and oliogomeric states. These different states allow SNAREs to interact with their matching SNARE partners, auxiliary proteins, or with other SNARE domains, often in a mutually exclusive fashion. SNARE core domains undergo progressive disorder to order transitions upon interactions with other proteins, culminating with the fully folded post-fusion (cis) SNARE complex. Physiological concentrations of neuronal SNAREs can juxtapose membranes, and promote fusion in vitro under certain conditions. However, significantly more work will be required to reconstitute an in vitro system that faithfully mimics the Ca2+-triggered fusion of a synaptic vesicle at the active zone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysics / methods*
  • Calcium / chemistry
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Palmitic Acid / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • SNARE Proteins / chemistry*
  • SNARE Proteins / physiology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • SNARE Proteins
  • Palmitic Acid
  • Calcium