During membrane fusion, the outer leaflets of the two membranes merge first, whereas the distal membrane leaflets remain separate until the opening of a fusion pore. This intermediate stage, called hemifusion, is a critical event shared by exocytosis, protein trafficking, and viral entry.
Electric fields promote pore formation in both biological and model membranes. We clamped unmodified planar bilayers at 150-550 mV to monitor transient single pores for a long period of time. We observed fast transitions between different conductance levels reflecting opening and closing of metastable lipid pores. Although mean lifetime of the pores was 3… (More)
The mechanism of bilayer unification in biological fusion is unclear. We reversibly arrested hemagglutinin (HA)-mediated cell-cell fusion right before fusion pore opening. A low-pH conformation of HA was required to form this intermediate and to ensure fusion beyond it. We present evidence indicating that outer monolayers of the fusing membranes were merged… (More)
Diverse membrane fusion reactions in biology involve close contact between two lipid bilayers, followed by the local distortion of the individual bilayers and reformation into a single, merged membrane. We consider the structures and energies of the fusion intermediates identified in experimental and theoretical work on protein-free lipid bilayers. On the… (More)
While the specificity and timing of membrane fusion in diverse physiological reactions, including virus-cell fusion, is determined by proteins, fusion always involves the merger of membrane lipid bilayers. We have isolated a lipid-dependent stage of cell-cell fusion mediated by influenza hemagglutinin and triggered by cell exposure to mildly acidic pH. This… (More)
Despite diverse origins, cellular fusion mechanisms converge at a pathway of phospholipid bilayer fusion. In this mini-review, we discuss how proteins can mediate each of the three major stages in the fusion pathway: contact, hemifusion, and the opening of an expanding fusion pore.
Membranes of intracellular organelles are characterized by large curvatures with radii of the order of 10-30nm. While, generally, membrane curvature can be a consequence of any asymmetry between the membrane monolayers, generation of large curvatures requires the action of mechanisms based on specialized proteins. Here we discuss the three most relevant… (More)
Myoblast fusion into multinucleated myotubes is a crucial step in skeletal muscle development and regeneration. Here, we accumulated murine myoblasts at the ready-to-fuse stage by blocking formation of early fusion intermediates with lysophosphatidylcholine. Lifting the block allowed us to explore a largely synchronized fusion. We found that initial merger… (More)
Cellular membranes undergo continuous remodeling. Exocytosis and endocytosis, mitochondrial fusion and fission, entry of enveloped viruses into host cells and release of the newly assembled virions, cell-to-cell fusion and cell division, and budding and fusion of transport carriers all proceed via topologically similar, but oppositely ordered, membrane… (More)
At the time of fusion, membranes are packed with fusogenic proteins. Do adjacent individual proteins interact with each other in the plane of the membrane? Or does each of these proteins serve as an independent fusion machine? Here we report that the low pH-triggered transition between the initial and final conformations of a prototype fusogenic protein,… (More)