Vesicle fusion is executed via formation of an Ω-shaped structure (Ω-profile), followed by closure (kiss-and-run) or merging of the Ω-profile into the plasma membrane (full fusion). Although Ω-profile closure limits release but recycles vesicles economically, Ω-profile merging facilitates release but couples to classical endocytosis for recycling. Despite its crucial role in determining exocytosis/endocytosis modes, how Ω-profile merging is mediated is poorly understood in endocrine cells and neurons containing small ∼30-300 nm vesicles. Here, using confocal and super-resolution STED imaging, force measurements, pharmacology and gene knockout, we show that dynamic assembly of filamentous actin, involving ATP hydrolysis, N-WASP and formin, mediates Ω-profile merging by providing sufficient plasma membrane tension to shrink the Ω-profile in neuroendocrine chromaffin cells containing ∼300 nm vesicles. Actin-directed compounds also induce Ω-profile accumulation at lamprey synaptic active zones, suggesting that actin may mediate Ω-profile merging at synapses. These results uncover molecular and biophysical mechanisms underlying Ω-profile merging.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)