Molecular identification of a snap-25-like snare protein in paramecium

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Using database searches of the completed Paramecium tetraurelia macronuclear genome with the metazoan SNAP-25 homologues, we identified a single 21-kDa Qb/c-SNARE in this ciliated protozoan, named P. tetraurelia SNAP (PtSNAP), containing the characteristic dual heptad repeat SNARE motifs of SNAP-25. The presence of only a single Qb/c class SNARE in P. tetraurelia is surprising in view of the multiple genome duplications and the high number of SNAREs found in other classes of this organism. As inferred from the subcellular localization of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion construct, the protein is localized on a variety of intracellular membranes, and there is a large soluble pool of PtSNAP. Similarly, the PtSNAP that is detected with a specific antibody in fixed cells is associated with a number of intracellular membrane structures, including food vacuoles, the contractile vacuole system, and the sites of constitutive endo- and exocytosis. Surprisingly, using gene silencing, we could not assign a role to PtSNAP in the stimulated exocytosis of dense core vesicles (trichocysts), but we found an increased number of food vacuoles in PtSNAP-silenced cells. In conclusion, we identify PtSNAP as a Paramecium homologue of metazoan SNAP-25 that shows several divergent features, like resistance to cleavage by botulinum neurotoxins.

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