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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2008 Jul;15(7):658-64.

Membrane fusion.

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Department of Biochemistry, Dartmouth Medical School, 7200 Vail Building, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755-3844, USA.


Subcellular compartmentalization, cell growth, hormone secretion and neurotransmission require rapid, targeted, and regulated membrane fusion. Fusion entails extensive lipid rearrangements by two apposed (docked) membrane vesicles, joining their membrane proteins and lipids and mixing their luminal contents without lysis. Fusion of membranes in the secretory pathway involves Rab GTPases; their bound 'effector' proteins, which mediate downstream steps; SNARE proteins, which can 'snare' each other, in cis (bound to one membrane) or in trans (anchored to apposed membranes); and SNARE-associated proteins (SM proteins; NSF or Sec18p; SNAP or Sec17p; and others) cooperating with specific lipids to catalyze fusion. In contrast, mitochondrial and cell-cell fusion events are regulated by and use distinct catalysts.

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