Micromolar Ca2+ stimulates fusion of lipid vesicles with planar bilayers containing a calcium-binding protein

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Science  21 Nov 1980:
Vol. 210, Issue 4472, pp. 906-908
DOI: 10.1126/science.7434004


Fusion of phospholipid vesicles with a planar phospholipid bilayer membrane that contains a calcium-binding protein appears to mimic the essential aspects of cytoplasmic-vesicle fusion with plasma membranes (exocytosis) in that (i) there is a low basal rate of fusion in the absence of Ca2+, (ii) this basal rate is enormously increased by micromolar (approximately 10 microM) amounts of Ca2+, and (iii) this rate is not increased by millimolar Mg2+. Essential to this process is an osmotic gradient across the planar membrane, with the side containing the vesicles hyperosmotic to the opposite side. Similar osmotic gradients or their equivalent may be crucial for biological fusion events.