Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Membrane fusion a mystery no more

25.01.2012
The many factors that contribute to how cells communicate and function at the most basic level are still not fully understood, but researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have uncovered a mechanism that helps explain how intracellular membranes fuse, and in the process, created a new physiological membrane fusion model.

The findings appear in the current edition of the journal PLoS Biology.

"Within our cells, we have communicating compartments called vesicles (a bubble-like membrane structure that stores and transports cellular products)," said Dr. Christopher Peters, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at BCM and lead author on the study. "These vesicles migrate through the cell, meet other vesicles and fuse. That fusion process is, in part, mediated through SNARE proteins that bring the vesicles together. How this happens has been in question for years."

The classic model for this process has been studied using artificial liposome models created in a lab. Peters and his colleagues knew a more physiological fusion model had to be studied in order to see a more accurate account of exactly what acts on this process. Using purified yeast organelles they were able to see that more factors come into play than had been originally believed.

In the classic model, it was believed SNARE proteins originating from two opposing membranes are somehow activated and separated into single proteins. Accepter SNARE proteins then form, allowing fusion with another vesicle membrane. How this mechanistically happens has been unknown.

"What we found with our physiological model is that a tethering complex (termed HOPS) is interacting with the SNARE proteins, activating them to begin this process. Also, the SNARE proteins do not completely separate into single proteins as first believed. Only one protein is detached, leaving behind the acceptor complex," Peters said. "This new acceptor SNARE-complex incorporates the single SNARE that has separated from another vesicle and the two vesicles are in position to fuse."

Researchers found that when this tethering factor was removed, the SNARE proteins were unstable and there was no fusion.

"This finding deals with one of the most fundamental reactions in a cell, how membranes fuse with each other. It is important to understand how this works, because when these events go wrong, either accelerating or slowing down, then it can affect certain disorders such as tumor formation," Peters said. "By using our physiological yeast fusion model, the impact of these tethering factors on the SNARE topology can be investigated, along with the many other factors that come into play. This was not the case in the artificial liposome models used in the past."

Others who contributed to the study include: Kannan Alpadi, Aditya Kulkarni and Sarita Namjoshi, all with the department of biochemistry at BCM; and Veronique Comte, Monique Reinhardt, Andrea Schmidt and Andreas Mayer, all with the department of biochemistry at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Funding for this study came from the National Institutes of Health and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Graciela Gutierrez | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bcm.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>