Mechanics of post-fusion exocytotic vesicle.
Exocytosis is an important cellular process controlled by metabolic signaling. It involves vesicle fusion to the plasma membrane, followed by the opening of a fusion pore, and the subsequent release of the vesicular lumen content into the extracellular space. While most modeling efforts focus on the events leading to membrane fusion, how the vesicular membrane remodels after fusing to plasma membrane remains unclear. This latter event dictates the nature and the efficiency of exocytotic vesicular secretions, and is thus critical for exocytotic function. We provide a generic membrane mechanical model to systematically study the fate of post-fusion vesicles. We show that while membrane stiffness favors full-collapse vesicle fusion into the plasma membrane, the intravesicular pressure swells the vesicle and causes the fusion pore to shrink. Dimensions of the vesicle and its associated fusion pore further modulate this mechanical antagonism. We systematically define the mechanical conditions that account for the full spectrum of the observed vesicular secretion modes. Our model therefore can serve as a unified theoretical framework that sheds light on the elaborate control mechanism of exocytosis.