The details of exocytosis, the vital cell process of neuronal communication, are still under debate with two generally accepted scenarios. The first mode of release involves secretory vesicles distending into the cell membrane to release the complete vesicle contents. The second involves partial release of the vesicle content through an intermittent fusion pore, or an opened or partially distended fusion pore. Here we show that both full and partial release can be mimicked with a single large-scale cell model for exocytosis composed of material from blebbing cell plasma membrane. The apparent switching mechanism for determining the mode of release is demonstrated to be related to membrane tension that can be differentially induced during artificial exocytosis. These results suggest that the partial distension mode might correspond to an extended kiss-and-run mechanism of release from secretory cells, which has been proposed as a major pathway of exocytosis in neurons and neuroendocrine cells.
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