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Trends Cell Biol. 2012 Mar;22(3):133-40. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2011.11.007. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

ESCRT-III polymers in membrane neck constriction.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), Schafmattstr. 18, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


The endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT)-III machinery contributes to membrane deformation and scission in cytokinesis, intraluminal vesicle formation, autophagy and virus budding. Recombinant ESCRT-III subunits polymerize in vitro into filaments, tubes, sheets or rings, and ESCRT-III-dependent filaments have been observed in cells at virus bud necks and at the cytokinetic abscission site. These observations have inspired speculation about how ESCRT-III could mediate constriction and fission of membrane necks. Based on the polymer structures observed in vitro and in vivo, we discuss models for ESCRT-III function and outline how emerging technologies could be used to test these models.

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