Membrane fusion through point defects in bilayers

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Science  22 May 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4497, pp. 921-923
DOI: 10.1126/science.7233185


Fusion between bilayers of mixed egg phosphatidylcholine and soybean phosphatidylethanolamine was induced by freezing and thawing. Contact points between bilayers were observed by freeze fracture electron microscopy, and isotropic molecular motional averaging was detected by phosphorus-31 nuclear magnetic resonance under fusion conditions. A molecular model of point defect structure is proposed as an intermediate stage of fusion.