Send to

Choose Destination
Virulence. 2010 Jul-Aug;1(4):319-24. doi: 10.4161/viru.1.4.12195.

SNARE motif: a common motif used by pathogens to manipulate membrane fusion.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


To penetrate host cells through their membranes, pathogens use a variety of molecular components in which the presence of heptad repeat motifs seems to be a prevailing element. Heptad repeats are characterized by a pattern of seven, generally hydrophobic, residues. In order to initiate membrane fusion, viruses use glycoproteins-containing heptad repeats. These proteins are structurally and functionally similar to the SNARE proteins known to be involved in eukaryotic membrane fusion. SNAREs also display a heptad repeat motif called the "SNARE motif". As bacterial genomes are being sequenced, microorganisms also appear to be carrying membrane proteins resembling eukaryotic SNAREs. This category of SNARE-like proteins might share similar functions and could be used by microorganisms to either promote or block membrane fusion. Such a recurrence across pathogenic organisms suggests that this architectural motif was evolutionarily selected because it most effectively ensures the survival of pathogens within the eukaryotic environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center