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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 27;101(17):6774-9. Epub 2004 Apr 16.

Zymogen granule exocytosis is characterized by long fusion pore openings and preservation of vesicle lipid identity.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1PD, United Kingdom.


The dynamics of the fusion pore that forms between a secretory vesicle and the plasma membrane are important in the regulation of both exocytosis and endocytosis. Here, we describe characteristics of fusion during zymogen granule exocytosis in exocrine pancreatic acinar cells. By using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching techniques, we show that the fusion pore remains open to allow free aqueous exchange with the vesicle lumen. There is no lipid interchange between the plasma and granule membranes during this time, and at the end of its life, the intact granule shrinks in situ, probably by a gradual pinching off of membrane patches. We propose that the protracted fusion pore lifetime is adapted to permit compound exocytosis, whereby the lingering primary granule acts as a conduit through which the contents of a secondary granule can be released. The lack of lipid intermixing may then facilitate selective recycling of granule membrane and preservation of apical membrane integrity.

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