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Science. 2007 May 25;316(5828):1205-8. Epub 2007 May 3.

How synaptotagmin promotes membrane fusion.

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Medical Research Council-Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, CB2 0QH Cambridge, UK.


Synaptic vesicles loaded with neurotransmitters are exocytosed in a soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE)-dependent manner after presynaptic depolarization induces calcium ion (Ca2+) influx. The Ca2+ sensor required for fast fusion is synaptotagmin-1. The activation energy of bilayer-bilayer fusion is very high (approximately 40 k(B)T). We found that, in response to Ca2+ binding, synaptotagmin-1 could promote SNARE-mediated fusion by lowering this activation barrier by inducing high positive curvature in target membranes on C2-domain membrane insertion. Thus, synaptotagmin-1 triggers the fusion of docked vesicles by local Ca2+-dependent buckling of the plasma membrane together with the zippering of SNAREs. This mechanism may be widely used in membrane fusion.

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