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Eur Biophys J. 1989;17(3):121-9.

Stalk mechanism of vesicle fusion. Intermixing of aqueous contents.

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A. N. Frumkin Institute of Electrochemistry, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow.


A mechanism for rupture of a separating bilayer, resulting from vesicle monolayer fusion is investigated theoretically. The stalk mechanism of monolayer fusion, assuming the formation and expansion of a stalk between two interacting membranes is considered. The stalk evolution leads to formation of a separating bilayer and mechanical tension appearance in the system. This tension results in rupture of the separating bilayer and hydrophilic pore formation. Competition between the mechanical tension and hydrophilic pore energy defines the criteria of contacting bilayer rupture. The tension increases with an increase of the absolute value of the negative spontaneous curvature of the outer membrane monolayer, Kos. The pore edge energy decreases with an increase of the positive spontaneous curvature of the inner membrane monolayer, Kis. The relations of spontaneous curvatures of outer and inner monolayers, leading to separating bilayer rupture, is calculated. It is demonstrated that his process is possible, provided spontaneous curvatures of membrane monolayers have opposite signs: Kos less than O, Kis greater than O. Experimental data concerning the fusion process are analysed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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