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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2008 Dec;11(6):600-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2008.08.006. Epub 2008 Oct 20.

SNAREs--molecular governors in signalling and development.

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Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biophysics, IBLS-Plant Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ UK.


SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor protein attachment protein receptor) proteins drive membrane fusion and contribute to membrane and protein targeting and delivery in all eukaryotic cells. SNAREs are essential to the mechanics of cell growth and development, and they facilitate a number of homeostatic and evoked responses in plants, from hormone signalling to pathogen defence. Additionally, there is now unambiguous evidence that SNAREs play roles in anchoring other membrane proteins and in facilitating ion channel gating through direct, physical interaction with channel proteins. What is the physiological significance of these additional features of plant SNAREs? We explore possible interpretations and suggest functions as scaffolds for effective signal transmission between proteins and, by analogy with a mechanical device invented by James Watt, as molecular governors to coordinate solute transport with cell expansion and growth.

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