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Free energy potential for aggregation of mixed phosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylserine lipid vesicles in glucose polymer (dextran) solutions

Biophysical Journal
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0006-3495(84)84213-7


The energetics of lipid vesicle-vesicle aggregation in dextran (36,000 mol wt) solutions have been studied with the use of micromechanical experiments. The affinities (free energy reduction per unit area of contact) for vesicle-vesicle aggregation were determined from measurements of the tension induced in an initially flaccid vesicle membrane as it adhered to another vesicle. The experiments involved controlled aggregation of single vesicles by the following procedure: two giant (approximately 20 micron diam) vesicles were selected from a chamber on the microscope stage that contained the vesicle suspension and transferred to a second chamber that contained a dextran (36,000 mol wt) salt solution (120 mM); the vesicles were then maneuvered into position for contact. One vesicle was aspirated with sufficient suction pressure to create a rigid sphere outside the pipette; the other vesicle was allowed to spread over the rigid vesicle surface. The aggregation potential (affinity) was derived from the membrane tension vs. contact area. Vesicles were formed from mixture of egg lecithin (PC) and phosphatidylserine (PS). For vesicles with a PC/PS ratio of 10:1, the affinity showed a linear increase with concentration of dextran; the values were on the order of 10(-1) ergs/cm2 at 10% by weight in grams. Similarly, pure PC vesicle aggregation was characterized by an affinity value of 1.5 X 10(-1) ergs/cm2 in 10% dextran by weight in grams. In 10% by weight in grams solutions of dextran, the free energy potential for vesicle aggregation decreased as the surface charge (PS) was increased; the affinity extrapolated to zero at a PC/PS ratio of 2:1.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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