LMP Seminar (video conference): Spontaneous Curvature, Differential Stress, and Bending Modulus of Asymmetric Lipid Membranes

LMP Seminar (video conference)

  • Datum: 19.01.2021
  • Uhrzeit: 14:00 - 15:30
  • Vortragende(r): Prof. Dr. Markus Deserno
  • Carnegie Mellon University, USA
  • Ort: Max-Planck-Institut für Dynamik und Selbstorganisation (MPIDS)
  • Raum: Video conference at www.zoom.us Meeting ID: 997 1155 2453 Passcode: 771001
  • Gastgeber: MPIDS / LMP
  • Kontakt: golestanian-office@ds.mpg.de
Lipid bilayers can exhibit asymmetric states, in which the physical characteristics of one leaflet differ from those of the other. This most visibly manifests in a different lipid composition, but it can also involve opposing lateral stresses in each leaflet that combine to an overall vanishing membrane tension. In this talk, I will explore the resulting interplay between a compositional asymmetry and a nonvanishing differential stress using both theoretical modeling and coarse-grained simulations. Minimizing the total elastic energy leads to a preferred spontaneous curvature that balances torques due to both bending moments and differential stress, with sometimes unexpected consequences. For instance, asymmetric flat bilayers, whose specific areas in each leaflet are matched to those of corresponding tensionless symmetric flat membranes, still exhibit a residual differential stress because the conditions of vanishing area strain and vanishing bending moment differ. Moreover, measurements of the curvature rigidity of asymmetric bilayers show that a sufficiently strong differential stress, but not compositional asymmetry alone, can increase the bending modulus. The likely cause is a stiffening of the compressed leaflet, which appears to be related to its gel transition but not identical with it. I finally show that the impact of cholesterol on differential stress depends on the relative strength of elastic and thermodynamic driving forces: if cholesterol solvates equally well in both leaflets, it will redistribute to cancel both leaflet tensions almost completely, but if its partitioning free energy prefers one leaflet over the other, the resulting distribution bias may even create differential stress. Because cells keep most of their lipid bilayers in an asymmetric nonequilibrium steady state, these findings suggest that biomembranes are elastically more complex than previously thought: besides a spontaneous curvature, they might also exhibit significant differential stress, which could strongly affect their curvature energetics.
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