Congratulations to Volker and Binyong for their publication in Methods in Cell Biology


Reconstituting SNARE-mediated membrane fusion at the single liposome level.

Volker Kiessling, Binyong Liang, Lukas K. Tamm

Center for Membrane Biology and Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics

Methods in Cell Biology, Volume 128, ISSN 0091-679x



Successful reconstitutions of SNARE-mediated intracellular membrane fusion have been achieved in bulk fusion assays since 1998 and in single liposome fusion assays since 2004. Especially in neuronal presynaptic SNARE-mediated exocytosis, fusion is controlled by numerous accessory proteins, of which some functions have also been reconstituted in vitro. The development of and results obtained with two fundamentally different single liposome fusion assays, namely liposome-to-supported membrane and liposome-to-liposome, are reviewed. Both assays distinguish between liposome docking and fusion steps of the overall fusion reaction and both assays are capable of resolving hemi-and full-fusion intermediates and end states. They have opened new windows for elucidating the mechanisms of these fundamentally important cellular reactions with unprecedented time and molecular resolution. Although many of the molecular actors in this process have been discovered, we have only scratched the surface of looking at their fascinating plays, interactions, and choreographies that lead to vesicle traffic as well as neurotransmitter and hormone release in the cell.