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Charged giant unilamellar vesicles prepared by electroformation exhibit nanotubes and transbilayer lipid asymmetry

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Steinkühler,  Jan
Rumiana Dimova, Theorie & Bio-Systeme, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

De Tillieux,  Philippe
Theorie & Bio-Systeme, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Knorr,  Roland L.
Roland Knorr, Theorie & Bio-Systeme, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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

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Dimova,  Rumiana
Rumiana Dimova, Theorie & Bio-Systeme, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Steinkühler, J., De Tillieux, P., Knorr, R. L., Lipowsky, R., & Dimova, R. (2018). Charged giant unilamellar vesicles prepared by electroformation exhibit nanotubes and transbilayer lipid asymmetry. Scientific Reports, 8(1): 11838. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-30286-z.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-EDB2-B
Abstract
Giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) are increasingly used as a versatile research tool to investigate membrane structure, morphology and phase state. In these studies, GUV preparation is typically enhanced by an externally applied electric field, a process called electroformation. We find that upon osmotic deflation, GUVs electroformed from charged and neutral lipids exhibit inward pointing lipid nanotubes, suggesting negative spontaneous curvature of the membrane. By quenching a fluorescent analog of the charged lipid, zeta potential measurements and experiments with the lipid marker annexin A5, we show that electroformed GUVs exhibit an asymmetric lipid distribution across the bilayer leaflets. The asymmetry is lost either after storing electroformed GUVs at room temperature for one day or by applying higher voltages and temperatures during electroformation. GUVs having the same lipid composition but grown via gel-assisted swelling do not show asymmetric lipid distribution. We discuss possible mechanisms for the generation and relaxation of lipid asymmetry, as well as implications for studies using electroformed vesicles. The observed effects allow to control the molecular assembly of lipid bilayer leaflets. Vesicle tubulation as reported here is an example of protein-free reshaping of membranes and is caused by compositional lipid asymmetry between leaflets.