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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Oct 26;96(22):12565-70.

Rapid and efficient fusion of phospholipid vesicles by the alpha-helical core of a SNARE complex in the absence of an N-terminal regulatory domain.

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Cellular Biochemistry Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, Box 251 New York, NY 10021, USA.


A protease-resistant core domain of the neuronal SNARE complex consists of an alpha-helical bundle similar to the proposed fusogenic core of viral fusion proteins [Skehel, J. J. & Wiley, D. C. (1998) Cell 95, 871-874]. We find that the isolated core of a SNARE complex efficiently fuses artificial bilayers and does so faster than full length SNAREs. Unexpectedly, a dramatic increase in speed results from removal of the N-terminal domain of the t-SNARE syntaxin, which does not affect the rate of assembly of v-t SNARES. In the absence of this negative regulatory domain, the half-time for fusion of an entire population of lipid vesicles by isolated SNARE cores ( approximately 10 min) is compatible with the kinetics of fusion in many cell types.

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