Open syntaxin overcomes exocytosis defects of diverse mutants in C. elegans

Nat Commun. 2020 Nov 2;11(1):5516. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19178-x.


Assembly of SNARE complexes that mediate neurotransmitter release requires opening of a 'closed' conformation of UNC-64/syntaxin. Rescue of unc-13/Munc13 mutant phenotypes by overexpressed open UNC-64/syntaxin suggested a specific function of UNC-13/Munc13 in opening UNC-64/ syntaxin. Here, we revisit the effects of open unc-64/syntaxin by generating knockin (KI) worms. The KI animals exhibit enhanced spontaneous and evoked exocytosis compared to WT animals. Unexpectedly, the open syntaxin KI partially suppresses exocytosis defects of various mutants, including snt-1/synaptotagmin, unc-2/P/Q/N-type Ca2+ channel alpha-subunit and unc-31/CAPS, in addition to unc-13/Munc13 and unc-10/RIM, and enhanced exocytosis in tom-1/Tomosyn mutants. However, open syntaxin aggravates the defects of unc-18/Munc18 mutants. Correspondingly, open syntaxin partially bypasses the requirement of Munc13 but not Munc18 for liposome fusion. Our results show that facilitating opening of syntaxin enhances exocytosis in a wide range of genetic backgrounds, and may provide a general means to enhance synaptic transmission in normal and disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Exocytosis / genetics*
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Liposomes / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics*
  • Syntaxin 1 / genetics
  • Syntaxin 1 / metabolism*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Liposomes
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Syntaxin 1
  • unc-64 protein, C elegans