Synapsins are a family of phosphoproteins fundamental to the regulation of neurotransmitter release. They are typically neuron-specific, although recent evidence pointed to their expression in non-neuronal cells where they play a role in exocytosis and vesicle trafficking. In this work, we characterized synapsin transcripts in the invertebrate mollusk Octopus vulgaris and present evidence of their expression not only in the brain but also in male and female reproductive organs. We identified three synapsin isoforms phylogenetically correlated to that of other invertebrates and with a modular structure characteristic of mammalian synapsins with a central, highly conserved C domain, important for the protein functions, and less conserved A, B and E domains. Our molecular modeling analysis further provided a solid background for predicting synapsin functional binding to ATP, actin filaments and secretory vesicles. Interestingly, we found that synapsin expression in ovary and testis increased during sexual maturation in cells with a known secretory role, potentially matching the occurrence of a secretion process. This might indicate that its secretory role has evolved across animals according to cell activity in spite of cell identity. We believe that this study may yield insights into the convergent evolution of ubiquitously expressed proteins between vertebrates and invertebrates.
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