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J Theor Biol. 1987 Dec 21;129(4):411-25.

Membrane fusion: overcoming of the hydration barrier and local restructuring.

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


The early stages of membrane fusion have been investigated theoretically. It has been shown that the hydration repulsion, operating between apposed membranes, is overcome locally under the action of out-of-plane thermal fluctuations of the bilayers. The fluctuations lead to the formation of close (less than 0.5 nm) contact between the membranes within a small area (approximately 10 nm2). Increasing hydration repulsion between apposed polar heads of lipid molecules in this area causes the rupture of interacting monolayers. The rupture results in monolayer fusion of the membranes, i.e. in the formation of a bridge connecting the monolayers, which is usually named the monolayer stalk. The influence of degree of hydration of the monolayers and their spontaneous curvature on conditions of monolayer fusion have been analysed. The proposed mechanism of early stages of fusion process can proceed without preliminary formation of tight dehydrated contact between the membranes and even without any dehydration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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