Coupling of Membrane Nanodomain Formation and Enhanced Electroporation near Phase Transition

Kirsch S, Böckmann R (2019)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2019


DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2019.04.024


Biological cells are enveloped by a heterogeneous lipid bilayer that prevents the uncontrolled exchange of substances between the cell interior and its environment. In particular, membranes act as a continuous barrier for salt and macromolecules to ensure proper physiological functions within the cell. However, it has been shown that membrane permeability strongly depends on temperature and, for phospholipid bilayers, displays a maximum at the transition between the gel and fluid phase. Here, extensive molecular dynamics simulations of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine bilayers were employed to characterize the membrane structure and dynamics close to phase transition, as well as its stability with respect to an external electric field. Atomistic simulations revealed the dynamic appearance and disappearance of spatially related nanometer-sized thick ordered and thin interdigitating domains in a fluid-like bilayer close to the phase transition temperature (T m ). These structures likely represent metastable precursors of the ripple phase that vanished at increased temperatures. Similarly, a two-phase bilayer with coexisting gel and fluid domains featured a thickness minimum at the interface because of splaying and interdigitating lipids. For all systems, application of an external electric field revealed a reduced bilayer stability with respect to pore formation for temperatures close to T m . Pore formation occurred exclusively in thin interdigitating membrane nanodomains. These findings provide a link between the increased membrane permeability and the structural heterogeneity close to phase transition.

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How to cite


Kirsch, S., & Böckmann, R. (2019). Coupling of Membrane Nanodomain Formation and Enhanced Electroporation near Phase Transition. Biophysical Journal.


Kirsch, Sonja, and Rainer Böckmann. "Coupling of Membrane Nanodomain Formation and Enhanced Electroporation near Phase Transition." Biophysical Journal (2019).

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