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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2003 Aug 18;1641(2-3):167-73.

The fusion pore.

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School of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA. ML95@CORNELL.EDU


The secretory process requires many different steps and stages. Vesicles must be formed and transported to the target membrane. They must be tethered or docked at the appropriate sites and must be prepared for fusion (priming). As the last step, a fusion pore is formed and the contents are released. Release of neurotransmitter is an extremely rapid event leading to rise times of the postsynaptic response of less than 100 micro s. The release thus occurs during the initial formation of the exocytotic fusion pore. To understand the process of synaptic transmission, it is thus of outstanding importance to understand the molecular structure of the fusion pore, what are the properties of the initial fusion pore, how these properties affect the release process and what other factors may be limiting the kinetics of release. Here we review the techniques currently employed in fusion pore studies and discuss recent data and opinions on exocytotic fusion pore properties.

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