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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Polyamines as modulators of membrane fusion: aggregation and fusion of liposomes.

We have studied the effect of the polyamines (spermine, spermidine, and putrescine) on the aggregation and fusion of large (approximately 100 nm in diameter) unilamellar liposomes in the presence of 100 mM NaCl, pH 7. 4. Liposome fusion was monitored by the Tb/dipicolinic acid fluorescence assay for the intermixing of internal aqueous contents, and the release of contents was followed by carboxyfluorescein fluorescence. Spermine and spermidine at physiological concentrations aggregated liposomes composed of pure phosphatidylserine (PS) or phosphatidate (PA) and mixtures of PA with phosphatidylcholine (PC) but did not induce any fusion. However, liposomes composed of mixtures of acidic phospholipids, cholesterol, and a high mole fraction of phosphatidylethanolamine could be induced to fuse by spermine and spermidine in the absence of divalent cations. Putrescine alone in the physiological concentration range was ineffective for both aggregation and fusion of these liposomes. Liposomes made of pure PC did not aggregate in the presence of polyamines. Addition of aggregating concentrations of spermine caused a drastic increase in the rate of Ca(2+)-induced fusion of PA liposomes and a large decrease in the threshold Ca(2+) concentration required for fusion. This effect was less pronounced in the case of PS or PA/PC vesicles. Preincubation of PA vesicles with spermine before the addition of Ca(2+) resulted in a 30-fold increase in the initial rate of fusion. We propose that polyamines may be involved in the regulation of membrane fusion phenomena accompanying cell growth, cell division, exocytosis, and fertilization.[1]


  1. Polyamines as modulators of membrane fusion: aggregation and fusion of liposomes. Schuber, F., Hong, K., Düzgünes, N., Papahadjopoulos, D. Biochemistry (1983) [Pubmed]
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