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Biophys J. 2002 Nov;83(5):2522-7.

SNAREs in opposing bilayers interact in a circular array to form conducting pores.

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  • 1Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 540E Canfield Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


The process of fusion at the nerve terminal is mediated via a specialized set of proteins in the synaptic vesicles and the presynaptic membrane. Three soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor (NSF)-attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) have been implicated in membrane fusion. The structure and arrangement of these SNAREs associated with lipid bilayers were examined using atomic force microscopy. A bilayer electrophysiological setup allowed for measurements of membrane conductance and capacitance. Here we demonstrate that the interaction of these proteins to form a fusion pore is dependent on the presence of t-SNAREs and v-SNARE in opposing bilayers. Addition of purified recombinant v-SNARE to a t-SNARE-reconstituted lipid membrane increased only the size of the globular t-SNARE oligomer without influencing the electrical properties of the membrane. However when t-SNARE vesicles were added to a v-SNARE membrane, SNAREs assembles in a ring pattern and a stepwise increase in capacitance, and increase in conductance were observed. Thus, t- and v-SNAREs are required to reside in opposing bilayers to allow appropriate t-/v-SNARE interactions leading to membrane fusion.

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