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Sci. Signal., 27 January 2009
Vol. 2, Issue 55, p. ec33
[DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.255ec33]


Cell Biology Grappling with Membrane Fusion

Stella M. Hurtley

Science, AAAS, Cambridge CB2 1LQ, UK

The process of membrane fusion is fundamental to cellular organization and has been the focus of a vast literature. Südhof and Rothman review the role of so-called SNARE and SM proteins in membrane fusion and present a hypothesis for how they are regulated by other proteins, termed grapples, exemplified by complexin. Two further papers also shed light on complexin’s role in regulating SNARE-mediated membrane fusion. Giraudo et al. show that a structural motif within complexin appears to act as a molecular switch directly interacting with SNAREs during membrane fusion. Maximov et al. confirm that, in neuronal systems, complexin can play a negative or positive role in SNARE-mediated membrane fusion during neurotransmitter release, potentially either clamping SNARES to prevent spontaneous fusion or promoting fusion when appropriate.

C. G. Giraudo, A. Garcia-Diaz, W. S. Eng, Y. Chen, W. A. Hendrickson, T. J. Melia, J. E. Rothman, Alternative zippering as an on-off switch for SNARE-mediated fusion. Science 323, 512–516 (2009). [Abstract] [Full Text]

A. Maximov, J. Tang, X. Yang, Z. P. Pang, T. C. Südhof, Complexin controls the force transfer from SNARE complexes to membranes in fusion. Science 323, 516–521 (2009). [Abstract] [Full Text]

T. C. Südhof, J. E. Rothman, Membrane fusion: Grappling with SNARE and SM proteins. Science 323, 474–477 (2009). [Abstract] [Full Text]

Citation: S. M. Hurtley, Grappling with Membrane Fusion. Sci. Signal. 2, ec33 (2009).

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