Cell Fusion pp 209-240 | Cite as

Lipid Vesicles

Model Systems to Study Membrane-Membrane Destabilization and Fusion
  • Francis C. Szoka


The biophysical investigator interested in membrane fusion has distilled the complexities of the biological system to the simpler event of fusion between lipid vesicles (liposomes). This approach disregards the diversity and many of the accessory elements suspected to be involved in biological fusions (Poste and Nicolson, 1978) and focuses instead on those aspects thought to be of more universal importance. The development of the lipid vesicle model fusion system has permitted studies concerning the molecular mechanism(s) involved in fusion. In particular, the use of lipid vesicles composed of acidic phospholipids, such as phosphatidylserine, has permitted precise statements to be made concerning the two universal aspects of all fusing systems: the requirement for close apposition of bilayers and the subsequent membrane destabilization preceding fusion (Nir et al, 1983a; Wilschut and Hoekstra, 1984). In addition, the role of cations, especially calcium, has been investigated extensively and considerable data have suggested that calcium induces membrane de-stabilization and fusion only after intermembrane contact (Nir et al, 1983a). Such studies have extended the basic physicochemical knowledge of interacting colloidal system and have paved the way for an understanding of the biological factor(s) involved in fusion.


Electron Spin Resonance Membrane Fusion Lipid Vesicle Phospholipid Vesicle Dipicolinic Acid 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis C. Szoka
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, School of PharmacyUniversity of California at San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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