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EMBO J. 1997 Mar 3;16(5):929-34.

Kinetic diversity in the fusion of exocytotic vesicles.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.


The speed at which secretory vesicles fuse with the plasma membrane is a key parameter for neuronal and endocrine functions. We determined the precise time courses for fusion of small clear and large dense-core vesicles in PC12 and chromaffin cells by simultaneously measuring both plasma membrane areas and release of vesicular contents. We found that instantaneous increases in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration evoked vesicle fusion, but with time constants that varied over four orders of magnitude among different types of vesicles and cells. This indicates that the molecular machinery for the final Ca2+-dependent fusion steps of exocytosis is highly variable and is as critical as Ca2+ signalling processes in determining the speed and amount of secretion of neurotransmitters and hormones. Our results suggest a new possibility that the molecules responsible for the final fusion reaction that leads to vesicle fusion are key determinants for neuronal plasticity and hormonal disorders.

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