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Editorial [Hot Topic: Developments in Membrane Fusion (Guest Editor: Stefania Galdiero)]

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Abstract:

I am very pleased to offer to the readers of Protein and Peptide Letters this special issue entitled “Developments in membrane fusion” highlighting the latest findings in the field. The aim of this issue is not to provide an exhaustive collection of data on membrane fusion but rather to present an updated, hopefully general, overview on this process and provide ideas and information that could contribute to the reader's own research.

Membrane fusion has attracted great interest among scientists in recent years. This process is fundamental to health and disease: it occurs at fertilization, is needed for hormones release into the bloodstream and during development, but it is also the mechanism used by enveloped viruses to enter cells or carcinogenesis. In the last few years, great strides have been made in our understanding of the molecular machinery and mechanism of membrane fusion. Fusion machines are adapted to fit the needs of different reactions but operate by similar principles in order to achieve merging of the bilayers. In spite of the ubiquity of membrane fusion, scientists are still trying to solve the mystery of how different molecules drive vesicles fusion. Understanding the details of membrane fusion may help scientists to find the appropriate conditions for preventing viruses from fusing to and thereby infecting human cells and could also lead to the design of systems in which a drug, enclosed in a membrane known to fuse with specific cells in our body, may be delivered or to improve gene therapy.

A number of research groups in the world are focused on cellular and biophysical aspects of fusion and are directed at understanding the protein components and/or membrane interactions that are necessary to facilitate and trigger fusion. These groups are making leading contributions to understanding the membrane perturbations and protein interactions that promote fusion as well as the cellular machinery that directs fusion. This special issue includes several papers describing the know-how on membrane fusion.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/092986609788681797

Publication date: July 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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