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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pulsatile Lipid Vesicles under Osmotic Stress.

  • Author(s): Chabanon, Morgan
  • Ho, James CS
  • Liedberg, Bo
  • Parikh, Atul N
  • Rangamani, Padmini
  • et al.

The response of lipid bilayers to osmotic stress is an important part of cellular function. Recent experimental studies showed that when cell-sized giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) are exposed to hypotonic media, they respond to the osmotic assault by undergoing a cyclical sequence of swelling and bursting events, coupled to the membrane's compositional degrees of freedom. Here, we establish a fundamental and quantitative understanding of the essential pulsatile behavior of GUVs under hypotonic conditions by advancing a comprehensive theoretical model of vesicle dynamics. The model quantitatively captures the experimentally measured swell-burst parameters for single-component GUVs, and reveals that thermal fluctuations enable rate-dependent pore nucleation, driving the dynamics of the swell-burst cycles. We further extract constitutional scaling relationships between the pulsatile dynamics and GUV properties over multiple timescales. Our findings provide a fundamental framework that has the potential to guide future investigations on the nonequilibrium dynamics of vesicles under osmotic stress.

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