Research note: Cholesterol leads to longer ‘kisses’ in membrane fusion
Membrane fusion is an important reaction, required for tissue development, viral infection, hormone release, and neurotransmission. But until now, few methods have examined the dynamic “pores” that regulate the release of cargo carried by secretory vesicles — hormone- or neurotransmitter-filled sacs — that fuse with a cell membrane.
Measuring light intensity around artificial fusion events, Erdem Karatekin of the Nanobiology Institute at West Campus, and collaborators at Columbia University have calculated the size and length of time these pores open and close. Published in the Biophysical Journal, their findings show that pore dynamics are regulated by cholesterol, the absence of which leads to shorter “kiss and run” openings. The discovery provides important clues about the dynamic transfer and release of hormones and neurotransmitters, said the researchers.