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Journal Article

Pattern formation by curvature-inducing proteins on spherical membranes


Agudo-Canalejo,  Jaime
Reinhard Lipowsky, Theorie & Bio-Systeme, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Agudo-Canalejo, J., & Golestanian, R. (2017). Pattern formation by curvature-inducing proteins on spherical membranes. New Journal of Physics, 19: 125013. doi:10.1088/1367-2630/aa983c.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002E-1751-7
Spatial organisation is a hallmark of all living cells, and recreating it in model systems is a necessary step in the creation of synthetic cells. It is therefore of both fundamental and practical interest to better understand the
basic mechanisms underlying spatial organisation in cells. In this work, we use
a continuum model of membrane and protein dynamics to study the behaviour of
curvature-inducing proteins on membranes of spherical shape, such as living cells or lipid vesicles. We show that the interplay between curvature energy, entropic forces, and the geometric constraints on the membrane can result in the formation of patterns of highly-curved/protein-rich and weakly-curved/protein-poor domains on the membrane. The spontaneous formation of such patterns can be triggered either by an increase in the average density of curvature-inducing proteins, or by a relaxation of the geometric constraints
on the membrane imposed by a turgor pressure or the tethering of the membrane
to a cell wall or cortex. These two parameters can also be tuned to select the size and number of the protein-rich domains that arise upon pattern formation.
The very general mechanism presented here could be related to protein self-organisation in many biological systems.