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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2005 May;12(5):417-22. Epub 2005 Apr 10.

Hemifusion in SNARE-mediated membrane fusion.

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


SNAREs are essential for intracellular membrane fusion. Using EPR, we determined the structure of the transmembrane domain (TMD) of the vesicle (v)-SNARE Snc2p involved in trafficking in yeast. Structural features of the TMD were used to design a v-SNARE mutant in which about half of the TMD was deleted. Liposomes containing this mutant induced outer leaflet mixing but not inner leaflet mixing when incubated with liposomes containing target membrane (t)-SNAREs. Hemifusion was also detected with wild-type SNAREs when low protein concentrations were reconstituted. Thus, these results show that SNARE-mediated fusion can transit through a hemifusion intermediate.

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