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Biochem J. 1996 Mar 1;314 ( Pt 2):469-75.

Development of an aqueous-space mixing assay for fusion of granules and plasma membranes from human neutrophils.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, 48109-0244, U.S.A.


Several models have been developed to study neutrophil degranulation. At the most basic level, phospholipid vesicles have been used to investigate the lipid interactions occurring during membrane fusion. The two major forms of assays used to measure phospholipid vesicle fusion are based either on the dilution of tagged phospholipids within the membrane of the two fusing partners or the mixing of the aqueous contents of the vesicles. Although problems exist with both methods, the latter is considered to be more accurate and representative of true fusion. Using 8-aminonaphthalene-1,3,6-trisulphonic acid (ANTS) as a fluorescent marker, we have taken advantage of the quenching properties of p-xylenebispyridinium bromide ('DPX') to develop a simple aqueous-space mixing assay that can be used with any sealed vesicle. We compared our new assay with more conventional assays using liposomes composed of phosphatidic acid (PA) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), obtaining comparable results with respect to Ca2+-dependent fusion. We extended our studies to measure the fusion of neutrophil plasma-membrane vesicles as well as azurophil and specific granules with PA/PE (1:3) liposomes. Both specific granules and plasma-membrane vesicles fused with PA/PE liposomes at [Ca2+] as low as 500 microM, while azurophil granules showed no fusion at [Ca2+] as high as 12 mM. These differences in the ability of Ca2+ to induce fusion may be related to differences observed in whole cells with respect to secretion.

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