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Biochemistry. 2002 Jul 23;41(29):9264-8.

The membrane-dipped neuronal SNARE complex: a site-directed spin labeling electron paramagnetic resonance study.

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Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.


The formation of the soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) complex is an essential process for membrane fusion and the neurotransmitter release in neurons. As an initial step toward the determination of the membrane topology of the SNARE complex, residues at the membrane-water interface were investigated with site-specific spin labeling electron paramagnetic resonance. EPR analysis revealed that the basic amino acid-rich interfacial region, which is universal for all transmembrane SNARE proteins, inserts into the membrane, eliminating the gap between the core complex and the membrane. The result raises the possibility that core complex formation directly leads to the apposition of two membranes, which could facilitate membrane fusion.

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