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

pH-dependent fusion of vesicular stomatitis virus with Vero cells. Measurement by dequenching of octadecyl rhodamine fluorescence.

We have studied fusion between membranes of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and Vero cells using an assay for lipid mixing based on the relief of self-quenching of octadecylrhodamine (R18) fluorescence. We could identify the two pathways of fusion by the kinetics of R18 dequenching, effects of inhibitors, temperature dependence, and dependence on osmotic pressure. Fusion at the plasma membrane began immediately after lowering the pH below 6 and showed an approximately exponential time course, whereas fusion via the endocytic pathway (pH 7.4) became apparent after a time delay of about 2 min. Fusion via the endocytic pathway was attenuated by treating cells with metabolic inhibitors and agents that raise the pH of the endocytic vesicle. A 10-fold excess of unlabeled virus arrested R18VSV entry via the endocytic pathway, whereas R18 dequenching below pH 6 (fusion at the plasma membrane) was not affected by the presence of unlabeled virus. The temperature dependence for fusion at pH 7.4 (in the endosome) was much steeper than that for fusion at pH 5.9 (with the plasma membrane). Fusion via the endocytic pathway was attenuated at hypo-osmotic pressures, whereas fusion at the plasma membrane was not affected by this treatment. The pH profile of Vero-VSV fusion at the plasma membrane, as measured by the dequenching method, paralleled that observed for VSV-induced cell-cell fusion. Fusion was blocked by adding neutralizing antibody to the Vero-VSV complexes. Activation of the fusion process by lowering the pH was reversible, in that the rate of fusion was arrested by raising the pH back to 7. 4. The observation that pH-dependent fusion occurred at similar rates with fragments and with intact cells indicates that pH, voltage, or osmotic gradients are not required for viral fusion.[1]


  1. pH-dependent fusion of vesicular stomatitis virus with Vero cells. Measurement by dequenching of octadecyl rhodamine fluorescence. Blumenthal, R., Bali-Puri, A., Walter, A., Covell, D., Eidelman, O. J. Biol. Chem. (1987) [Pubmed]
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