Part 1: A Reduced SNARE Model for Membrane Fusion
The cells of all living things depend on membrane fusion for intra- and intercellular transport of molecules. In both cellular membrane fusion and intracellular vesicle fusion, the fusion process is controlled and guided by SNARE proteins. SNARE is an acronym for Soluble NSF Attachment Protein Receptor. NSF stands for N-ethylmaleimide-Sensitive Factor. Reviews of SNARE protein structure and function can be found here, here, here, and here. An example of a SNARE protein is synaptobrevin. Click part 2 and part 3 to read the other pieces in this series.
What about Quantum Dots?
Let’s start with a quick refresher. Quantum dots are cool
little tiny nano particles, less than 10 nm in diameter, made of a semiconductor alloy core and coated with a shell of a different alloy, which fluoresce at different wavelengths depending on their size and specific composition. The smaller the quantum dot, the more blue-shifted its emission wavelength while larger quantum dots (6 nm and larger) shift to red and near-IR. Quantum dots can be a good alternative to organic dyes since they have broad excitation spectra (absorb energy at a wide range of wavelengths), narrow emission spectra (emit a fairly specific wavelength), and don’t suffer from photobleaching (degradation due to light intensity/oxidizing agents). Read more about fluorescence excitation and emission.