Membrane fusion: Overcoming of the hydration barrier and local restructuring

Sergey L. Leikin, Michael M. Kozlov, Leonid V. Chernomordik, Vladislav S. Markin, Yuri A. Chizmadzhev

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123 Scopus citations


The early stages of membrane fusion have been investigated theoretically. It has been shown that the hydration repulsion, operating between apposed membranes, is overcome locally under the action of out-of-plane thermal fluctuations of the bilayers. The fluctuations lead to the formation of close (<0·5 nm) contact between the membranes within a small area (∼ 10 nm2). Increasing hydration repulsion between apposed polar heads of lipid molecules in this area causes the rupture of interacting monolayers. The rupture results in monolayer fusion of the membranes, i.e. in the formation of a bridge connecting the monolayers, which is usually named the monolayer stalk. The influence of degree of hydration of the monolayers and their spontaneous curvature on conditions of monolayer fusion have been analysed. The proposed mechanism of early stages of fusion process can proceed without preliminary formation of tight dehydrated contact between the membranes and even without any dehydration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-425
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 21 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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