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The conception of fusion pores as rate-limiting structures for surfactant secretion.

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Department of Physiology, University of Innsbruck, Fritz-Pregl-Str. 3, A-6020, Innsbruck, Austria.


It is well established that the release of surfactant phospholipids into the alveolar lumen proceeds by the exocytosis of lamellar bodies (LBs), the characteristic storage organelles of surfactant in alveolar type II cells. Consequently, the fusion of LBs with the plasma membrane and the formation of exocytotic fusion pores are key steps linking cellular synthesis of surfactant with its delivery into the alveolar space. Considering the unique structural organization of LBs or LB-associated aggregates which are found in lung lavages, and the roughly 1-microm-sized dimensions of these particles, we speculated whether the fusion pore diameter of fused LBs might be a specific hindrance for surfactant secretion, delaying or even impeding full release. In this mini-review, we have compiled published data shedding light on a possibly important role of fusion pores during the secretory process in alveolar type II cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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