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Molecular Mechanisms of Neuronal Exocytosis
Monday, December 1, 2003,
12:00:00 PM Time displayed is Eastern Time, Washington DC Local
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Dr. Jahn studies the mechanisms of membrane fusion, with the main emphasis on regulated exocytosis in neurons. It is known that intracellular membrane fusion events are mediated by a set of conserved membrane proteins, termed SNAREs. For fusion to occur, complementary sets of SNAREs need to be present on both of the fusing membranes. The neuronal SNAREs are among the best characterized. They are the targets of the toxins responsible for botulism and tetanus. To understand how these proteins make membranes fuse, Dr. Jahn's group studies their properties in detail using biochemical and biophysical approaches. They found that SNAREs assemble into a tight complex which ties the membrane closely together and thus probably initiates bilayer mixing.