Cell Biology

Minimalist Machinery

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  19 Aug 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5738, pp. 1155
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5738.1155c

The fusion of two biological membranes requires the concerted action of integral membrane proteins (either endogenous ones or those carried by enveloped viruses) that rearrange the lipid bilayers in such a way as to facilitate membrane merger. Top et al. describe a recently characterized family of reovirus proteins that lack a well-defined hydrophobic fusion peptide and hence appear to promote fusion via a somewhat different trigger than that utilized by the archetypal influenza virus hemagglutinin. These fusion-associated small transmembrane (FAST) proteins mediate efficient cell-cell fusion when transfected into a variety of cells. Furthermore, when recon- stituted into proteo-liposomes, a reptilian reovirus FAST protein promoted time- and temperature-dependent liposome-cell and liposome-liposome fusion as assessed by the mixing of lipids and of liposome contents. The precise mechanism by which this simple machine can initiate membrane fusion remains to be elucidated, but may involve the combined action of chaotropic modules in the extramembraneous portions of the FAST protein. — SMH

EMBO J. 10.1038/sj.emboj.7600767 (2005).

Navigate This Article