Actin-Propelled Invasive Membrane Protrusions Promote Fusogenic Protein Engagement During Cell-Cell Fusion

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Science  07 Mar 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234781

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Cell-cell fusion is critical for the conception, development, and physiology of multicellular organisms. Although cellular fusogenic proteins and the actin cytoskeleton are implicated in cell-cell fusion, whether and how they coordinate to promote plasma membrane fusion remain unclear. Here, we reconstituted a high-efficiency, inducible cell-fusion culture system in the normally nonfusing Drosophila S2R+ cells. Both fusogenic proteins and actin cytoskeletal rearrangements were necessary for cell fusion, and, in combination, were sufficient to impart fusion competence. Localized actin polymerization triggered by specific cell-cell or cell-matrix adhesion molecules propelled invasive cell membrane protrusions, which, in turn, promoted fusogenic protein engagement and plasma membrane fusion. This de novo cell-fusion culture system reveals a general role for actin-propelled invasive membrane protrusions in driving fusogenic protein engagement during cell-cell fusion.

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