Complexins are synaptic SNARE complex-binding proteins that cooperate with synaptotagmins in activating Ca(2+)-stimulated, synaptotagmin-dependent synaptic vesicle exocytosis and in clamping spontaneous, synaptotagmin-independent synaptic vesicle exocytosis. Here, we show that complexin sequences are conserved in some non-metazoan unicellular organisms and in all metazoans, suggesting that complexins are a universal feature of metazoans that predate metazoan evolution. We show that complexin from Nematostella vectensis, a cnidarian sea anemone far separated from mammals in metazoan evolution, functionally replaces mouse complexins in activating Ca(2+)-triggered exocytosis, but is unable to clamp spontaneous exocytosis. Thus, the activating function of complexins is likely conserved throughout metazoan evolution.
Keywords: SNARE proteins; evolution; membrane fusion; synapse; synaptotagmin.
© 2015 The Authors.