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Biochemistry. 1984 Nov 20;23(24):5675-81.

Fluorescence method for measuring the kinetics of fusion between biological membranes.


An assay is presented that allows continuous and sensitive monitoring of membrane fusion in both artificial and biological membrane systems. The method relies upon the relief of fluorescence self-quenching of octadecyl Rhodamine B chloride. When the probe is incorporated into a lipid bilayer at concentrations up to 9 mol% with respect to total lipid, the efficiency of self-quenching is proportional to its surface density. Upon fusion between membranes labeled with the probe and nonlabeled membranes, the decrease in surface density of the fluorophore results in a concomitant, proportional increase in fluorescence intensity, allowing kinetic and quantitative measurements of the fusion process. The kinetics of fusion between phospholipid vesicles monitored with this assay were found to be the same as those determined with a fusion assay based on resonance energy transfer [Struck, D. K., Hoekstra, D., & Pagano, R. E. (1981) Biochemistry 20, 4093-4099]. Octadecyl Rhodamine B chloride can be readily inserted into native biological membranes by addition of an ethanolic solution of the probe. Evidence is presented showing that the dilution of the fluorophore, occurring when octadecyl Rhodamine containing influenza virus is mixed with phospholipid vesicles at pH 5.0, but not pH 7.4, resulted from virus-vesicle fusion and was not related to processes other than fusion. Furthermore, by use of this method, the kinetics of fusion between Sendai virus and erythrocyte ghosts and virus-induced fusion of ghosts were readily revealed. Dilution of the probe was not observed upon prior treatment of fluorescently labeled Sendai virus with trypsin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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