Neuronal SNAREs do not trigger fusion between synthetic membranes but do promote PEG-mediated membrane fusion.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

At low surface concentrations that permit formation of impermeable membranes, neuronal soluble N-ethyl maleimide sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins form a stable, parallel, trans complex when vesicles are brought into contact by a low concentration of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG). Surprisingly, formation of a stable SNARE complex does not trigger fusion under these conditions. However, neuronal SNAREs do promote fusion at low protein/lipid ratios when triggered by higher concentrations of PEG. Promotion of PEG-triggered fusion required phosphatidylserine and depended only on the surface concentration of SNAREs and not on the formation of a trans SNARE complex. These results were obtained at protein surface concentrations reported for synaptobrevin in synaptic vesicles and with an optimally fusogenic lipid composition. At a much higher protein/lipid ratio, vesicles joined by SNARE complex slowly mixed lipids at 37 degrees C in the absence of PEG, in agreement with earlier reports. However, vesicles containing syntaxin at a high protein/lipid ratio (>or=1:250) lost membrane integrity. We conclude that the neuronal SNARE complex promotes fusion by joining membranes and that the individual proteins syntaxin and synaptobrevin disrupt membranes so as to favor formation of a stalk complex and to promote conversion of the stalk to a fusion pore. These effects are similar to the effects of viral fusion peptides and transmembrane domains, but they are not sufficient by themselves to produce fusion in our in vitro system at surface concentrations documented to occur in synaptic vesicles. Thus, it is likely that proteins or factors other than the SNARE complex must trigger fusion in vivo.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dennison, SM; Bowen, ME; Brunger, AT; Lentz, BR

Published Date

  • March 1, 2006

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 90 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1661 - 1675

PubMed ID

  • 16339880

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC1367317

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0006-3495

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1529/biophysj.105.069617


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States