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Cell. 1999 Dec 23;99(7):713-22.

Inhibition of SNARE complex assembly differentially affects kinetic components of exocytosis.

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Department of Membrane Biophysics, Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany.


In chromaffin cells, an increase in intracellular Ca2+ leads to an exocytotic burst followed by sustained secretion. The burst can be further resolved into two kinetically distinct components, which suggests the presence of two separate pools of vesicles. To investigate how these components relate to SNARE complex formation, we introduced an antibody that blocks SNARE assembly but not disassembly. In the presence of the antibody, the sustained component was largely blocked, the burst was slightly reduced, and one of its kinetic components was eliminated. We conclude that SNARE complexes form before Ca(2+)-triggered membrane fusion and exist in a dynamic equilibrium between a loose and a tight state, both of which support exocytosis. Interaction of the antibody with preformed SNARE complexes favors the loose state.

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