Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

© Springer Japan 2015. SNARE proteins constitute the minimal machinery needed for membrane fusion. SNAREs operate by forming a complex, which pulls the lipid bilayers into close contact and provides the mechanical force needed for lipid bilayer fusion. At the chemical synapse, SNARE-complex formation between the vesicular SNARE VAMP2/synaptobrevin-2 and the target (plasma membrane) SNAREs SNAP25 and syntaxin-1 results in fusion and release of neurotransmitter, synchronized to the electrical activity of the cell by calcium influx and binding to synaptotagmin. Formation of the SNARE complex is tightly regulated and appears to start with syntaxin-1 bound to an SM (Sec1/Munc18-like) protein. Proteins of the Munc13-family are responsible for opening up syntaxin and allowing sequential binding of SNAP-25 and VAMP2/synaptobrevin-2. N- to C-terminal “zippering” of the SNARE domains leads to membrane fusion. An intermediate, half-zippered, state represents the “primed” vesicle, which is ready for release when C-terminal SNARE assembly is triggered by synaptotagmin. Following fusion, the SNAREs are recycled by the action of the AAA-ATPase NSF (N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor). In recent years, the lipid requirements for the SNARE mechanism have been scrutinized, and roles for the “noncanonical” SNAREs in the synapse are emerging, yet much remains to be learned about the spatial and temporal regulation of fusion.

Original publication





Book title

Presynaptic Terminals

Publication Date



87 - 127