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Vesicle transport in plants: A revised phylogeny of SNARE proteins

Gu, X.; Brennan, A.; Wei, W.; Guo, G.; Lindsey, K.

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X. Gu

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Dr Wenbin Wei
Chief Experimental Officer (Bioinformatics)

G. Guo


Communication systems within and between plant cells involve the transfer of ions and molecules between compartments, and are essential for development and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. This in turn requires the regulated movement and fusion of membrane systems with their associated cargo. Recent advances in genomics has provided new resources with which to investigate the evolutionary relationships between membrane proteins across plant species. Members of the soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) are known to play important roles in vesicle trafficking across plant, animal and microbial species. Using recent public expression and transcriptomic data from nine representative green plants, we investigated the evolution of the SNARE classes and linked protein changes to functional specialization (expression patterns). We identified an additional three putative SNARE genes in the model plant Arabidopsis. We found that all SNARE classes have expanded in number to a greater or lesser degree alongside the evolution of multicellularity, and that within-species expansions are also common. These gene expansions appear to be associated with the accumulation of amino acid changes and with sub-functionalization of SNARE family members to different tissues. These results provide an insight into SNARE protein evolution and functional specialization. The work provides a platform for hypothesis-building and future research into the precise functions of these proteins in plant development and responses to the environment.


Gu, X., Brennan, A., Wei, W., Guo, G., & Lindsey, K. (2020). Vesicle transport in plants: A revised phylogeny of SNARE proteins. Evolutionary Bioinformatics, 16, 1-11.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 21, 2020
Publication Date Jan 1, 2020
Deposit Date Sep 21, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 16, 2020
Journal Evolutionary Bioinformatics
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Pages 1-11


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (1.1 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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