Bhanu P. Jena
Secretion occurs in all living cells and involves the delivery of intracellular products to the cell exterior. Secretory products are packaged and stored in membranous sacs or vesicles within the cell. When the cell needs to secrete these products, the secretory vesicles containing them dock and fuse at plasma membrane-associated supramolecular structures, called porosomes, to release their contents. Specialized cells for neurotransmission, enzyme secretion, or hormone release use a highly regulated secretory process. Similar to other fundamental cellular processes, cell secretion is precisely regulated. During secretion, swelling of secretory vesicles results in a build-up of intravesicular pressure, allowing expulsion of vesicular contents. The extent of vesicle swelling dictates the amount of vesicular contents expelled. The discovery of the porosome as the universal secretory machinery, its isolation, its structure and dynamics at nanometer resolution and in real time, and its biochemical composition and functional reconstitution into artificial lipid membrane have been determined. The molecular mechanism of secretory vesicle swelling and the fusion of opposing bilayers, that is, the fusion of secretory vesicle membrane at the base of the porosome membrane, have also been resolved. These findings reveal, for the first time, the universal molecular machinery and mechanism of secretion in cells.
Key Words: secretion • membrane fusion • porosome or fusion pore
Source: Experimental Biology and Medicine 230:307-319 (2005).