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Biochemistry. 1981 Jul 7;20(14):4093-9.

Use of resonance energy transfer to monitor membrane fusion.


An assay for vesicle--vesicle fusion involving resonance energy transfer between N-(7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-yl), the energy donor, and rhodamine, the energy acceptor, has been developed. The two fluorophores are coupled to the free amino group of phosphatidylethanolamine to provide analogues which can be incorporated into a lipid vesicle bilayer. When both fluorescent lipids are in phosphatidylserine vesicles at appropriate surface densities (ratio of fluorescent lipid to total lipid), efficient energy transfer is observed. When such vesicles are fused with a population of pure phosphatidylserine vesicles by the addition of calcium, the two probes mix with the other lipids present to form a new membrane. This mixing reduces the surface density of the energy acceptor resulting in a decreased efficiency of resonance energy transfer which is measured experimentally. These changes in transfer efficiency allow kinetic and quantitative measurements of the fusion process. Using this system, we have studied the ability of phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidylcholine--phosphatidylserine (1:1) vesicles to fuse with cultured fibroblasts. Under the conditions employed, the majority of the cellular uptake of vesicle lipid could be attributed to the adsorption of intact vesicles to the cell surface regardless of the composition of the vesicle bilayer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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