Membrane fusion reaction: A theory

G. Poste, A. C. Allison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


A unitary theory of membrane fusion is proposed on the basis of similarities between events in cell fusion and the fusion of subcellular membrane systems. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of Ca2+, ATP and membrane-associated ATPase enzyme systems in regulating the membrane changes responsible for fusion. The membrane fusion reaction is considered in four stages: membrane contact; induction; fusion; and stabilization. It is suggested that under the appropriate conditions changes in the electrostatic potential created by the closed approximation of membranes (stage one) will induce the membrane changes required for the remaining three stages. Various factors influencing each stage of the membrane fusion reaction are considered in detail. The significance of membrane fusion in cell biology and objections to existing theories of fusion are discussed briefly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-184
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1971
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


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