Cell Biology

Making a Commitment

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Science  16 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5473, pp. 1933
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5473.1933b

Intracellular membrane fusion events are mediated by the interaction between so-called SNARE proteins. Detailed analysis of the interaction between these proteins has led to a model in which four coiled-coils from two SNARE proteins in different membranes intertwine to form a SNAREpin, which brings together the membranes for subsequent fusion. However, the N-ethylmaleimide sensitive fusion protein (NSF) is known to disrupt SNARE complexes.

Weber et al. examined these competing reactions in a reconstituted system and found that SNAREpins that are committed to causing a fusion event become functionally resistant to disruption by NSF. The molecular details of commitment to fusion and resistance to NSF-mediated disruption remain obscure, but may involve the cooperation between multiple SNAREpins to form a fusion pore or the steric sequestration of the SNAREpins due to tight membrane apposition.—SMH

J. Cell Biol.149, 1063 (2000).

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