Navigation Links
Membrane fusion a mystery no more

HOUSTON - (Jan. 24, 2012) - The many factors that contribute to how cells communicate and function at the most basic level are still not fully understood, but researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have uncovered a mechanism that helps explain how intracellular membranes fuse, and in the process, created a new physiological membrane fusion model.

The findings appear in the current edition of the journal PLoS Biology.

"Within our cells, we have communicating compartments called vesicles (a bubble-like membrane structure that stores and transports cellular products)," said Dr. Christopher Peters, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at BCM and lead author on the study. "These vesicles migrate through the cell, meet other vesicles and fuse. That fusion process is, in part, mediated through SNARE proteins that bring the vesicles together. How this happens has been in question for years."

The classic model for this process has been studied using artificial liposome models created in a lab. Peters and his colleagues knew a more physiological fusion model had to be studied in order to see a more accurate account of exactly what acts on this process. Using purified yeast organelles they were able to see that more factors come into play than had been originally believed.

In the classic model, it was believed SNARE proteins originating from two opposing membranes are somehow activated and separated into single proteins. Accepter SNARE proteins then form, allowing fusion with another vesicle membrane. How this mechanistically happens has been unknown.

"What we found with our physiological model is that a tethering complex (termed HOPS) is interacting with the SNARE proteins, activating them to begin this process. Also, the SNARE proteins do not completely separate into single proteins as first believed. Only one protein is detached, leaving behind the acceptor complex," Peters said. "This new acceptor SNARE-complex incorporates the single SNARE that has separated from another vesicle and the two vesicles are in position to fuse."

Researchers found that when this tethering factor was removed, the SNARE proteins were unstable and there was no fusion.

"This finding deals with one of the most fundamental reactions in a cell, how membranes fuse with each other. It is important to understand how this works, because when these events go wrong, either accelerating or slowing down, then it can affect certain disorders such as tumor formation," Peters said. "By using our physiological yeast fusion model, the impact of these tethering factors on the SNARE topology can be investigated, along with the many other factors that come into play. This was not the case in the artificial liposome models used in the past."


Contact: Graciela Gutierrez
Baylor College of Medicine

Related biology news :

1. New device creates lipid spheres that mimic cell membranes
2. Evidence for spinal membrane as a source of stem cells may advance spinal cord treatment
3. New membrane lipid measuring technique may help fight disease
4. Three-part handoff delivers proteins to membrane surface
5. Common drugs initiate a molecular pas de quatre at the surface of the cell membrane
6. A chaperone system guides tail-anchored membrane proteins to their destined membrane
7. Transport Phenomena and Membrane Digestion in Small Intestinal Mucosa by Pensoft
8. Study reveals important aspects of signaling across cell membranes in plants
9. Structural biologist wins $150K for membrane mimic technology
10. Researchers get a first look at the mechanics of membrane proteins
11. Closer look at cell membrane shows cholesterol keeping order
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/4/2015)... , November 4, 2015 ... market report published by Transparency Market Research "Home Security Solutions ... and Forecast 2015 - 2022", the global home security solutions ... bn by 2022. The market is estimated to expand ... from 2015 to 2022. Rising security needs among customers ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today ... distribution of its DNA library preparation products, including ... new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been ... of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of ... prognostic applications in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... -- Munich, Germany , October ... automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos created ... that they can be quantitatively analyzed with SMI,s analysis ... , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic Gaze ... tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye Tracking Glasses ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... --> Accutest Research Laboratories, ... Contract Research Organization (CRO), has formed ... Cancer Center - Temple Health for ... ,     (Photo: ) , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015  PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE MKT: ... adopted a stockholder rights plan (Rights Plan) in an ... loss carryforwards (NOLs) under Section 382 of the Internal ... --> PharmAthene,s use of its NOLs could be ... as defined in Section 382 of the Code. In ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... HOLLISTON, Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 ... a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants for life-threatening ... will present at the LD Micro "Main Event" investor ... PT. The presentation will be webcast live and posted ... also be available at the conference for one-on-one meetings ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OPBAP) has been formalized with the signing ... AMA team leaders met with OPBAP leaders Capt. Karl Minter and Capt. Albert ...
Breaking Biology Technology: