ABSTRACT: Exocytosis is the process of fusion of a membrane-bound vesicle with the cell membrane and subsequent release of the vesicle content to the outside. It is now widely accepted that SNAREs (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors) proteins are key components in the molecular machinery of exocytosis. SNARE proteins on the vesicle membrane selectively form complexes with specific SNAREs on the cell membrane. In a variant of exocytosis, called compound exocytosis, secretory vesicles still fuse with the cell membrane but vesicle-to-vesicle fusion enhances secretory output. Two types of compound exocytosis occur, either vesicles fuse with each other and then fuse with the cell membrane, or a vesicle fuses with the cell membrane and then becomes a target for further vesicles to fuse with it. It is expected that SNAREs are important for vesicle-to-vesicle fusion but the mechanism(s) that control these processes is unknown. In our recent paper (Behrendorff et al. 2011) we provide evidence that VAMP8 (a Q-SNARE) is essential in regulating compound exocytosis. Here we discuss the implications of our findings with reference to a new model for the control of vesicle-to-vesicle fusion.
Communicative & integrative biology 01/2012; 5(1):61-3.