Exocytosis from pancreatic β-cells: mathematical modelling of the exit of low-molecular-weight granule content.
Galvanovskis J., Braun M., Rorsman P.
Pancreatic β-cells use Ca(2+)-dependent exocytosis of large dense core vesicles to release insulin. Exocytosis in β-cells has been studied biochemically, biophysically and optically. We have previously developed a biophysical method to monitor release of endogenous intragranular constituents that are co-released with insulin. This technique involves the expression of ionotropic membrane receptors in the β-cell plasma membrane and enables measurements of exocytosis of individual vesicles with sub-millisecond resolution. Like carbon fibre amperometry, this method allows fine details of the release process, like the expansion of the fusion pore (the narrow connection between the granule lumen and the extracellular space), to be monitored. Here, we discuss experimental data obtained with this method within the framework of a simple mathematical model that describes the release of low-molecular constituents during exocytosis of the insulin granules. Our findings suggest that the fusion pore functions as a molecular sieve, allowing differential release of low- and high-molecular-weight granule constituents.