Regulated exocytosis involves the tightly controlled fusion of a transport vesicle with the plasma membrane. It includes processes as diverse as the release of neurotransmitters from presynaptic nerve endings and the sperm-triggered deposition of a barrier preventing polyspermy in oocytes. Cell-free model systems have been developed for studying the biochemical events underlying exocytosis. They range from semi-intact permeabilized cells to the reconstitution of membrane fusion from isolated secretory vesicles and their target plasma membranes. Interest in such cell-free systems has recently been reinvigorated by new evidence suggesting that membrane fusion is mediated by a basic mechanism common to all intracellular fusion events. In this chapter, we review some of the literature in the light of these new developments and attempt to provide a critical discussion of the strengths and limitations of the various cell-free systems.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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