Membrane fusion

Cell. 2003 Feb 21;112(4):519-33. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(03)00112-0.


Membrane fusion, one of the most fundamental processes in life, occurs when two separate lipid membranes merge into a single continuous bilayer. Fusion reactions share common features, but are catalyzed by diverse proteins. These proteins mediate the initial recognition of the membranes that are destined for fusion and pull the membranes close together to destabilize the lipid/water interface and to initiate mixing of the lipids. A single fusion protein may do everything or assemblies of protein complexes may be required for intracellular fusion reactions to guarantee rigorous regulation in space and time. Cellular fusion machines are adapted to fit the needs of different reactions but operate by similar principles in order to achieve merging of the bilayers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Exocytosis
  • Lipid Bilayers*
  • Membrane Fusion*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Synaptotagmins


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Synaptotagmins