, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 111-123

SNARE complex regulation by phosphorylation

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SNAREs (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive fusion factor attachment protein receptors) are ubiquitous proteins that direct vesicular trafficking and exocytosis. In neurons, SNAREs act to mediate release of neurotransmitters, which is a carefully regulated process. Calcium influx has long been shown to be the key trigger of release. However, calcium alone cannot regulate the degree of vesicle content release. For example, only a limited number of docked vesicles releases neurotransmitters when calcium entry occurs; this suggests that exocytosis is regulated by other factors besides calcium influx. Regulation of the degree of release is best explained by looking at the many enzymatic proteins that interact with the SNARE complex. These proteins have been hypothesized to regulate the formation, stability, or disassembly of the SNARE complex and therefore may regulate neurotransmitter release. One group of enzymatic regulators is the protein kinases. These proteins phosphorylate sites on both SNARE proteins and proteins that interact with SNARE proteins. Recent research has identified some of the specific effects that phosphorylation (or dephosphorylation) at these sites can produce. Additionally, palmitoylation of SNAP-25, regulates the localization, and hence activity of this key SNARE protein. This review focuses on the location and effects of phosphorylation on SNARE regulation.