During exocytosis, secretory vesicles of mast cells generate current transient that marks the opening of the fusion pore, the first aqueous connection that forms between the vesicle lumen and the cell exterior. By recording and analyzing such current transients, we have tracked the conductance of the fusion pore over the first millisecond of its existence. The first opening of the pore occurs rapidly, generally within 100 μs at 23°C. The electric conductance of the pore is a few hundred picosiemens at first, but gradually increases over the subsequent milliseconds. Evidently the pore opens abruptly and then dilates. The initial conductance of the pore suggests a diameter comparable to that of a large ion channel. From an analysis of "capacitance flicker" we infer that a pore can increase its diameter severalfold and still close again completely. This suggests that several early events in membrane fusion are reversible.
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