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Real-time intermembrane force measurements and imaging of lipid domain morphology during hemifusion.

  • Author(s): Lee, Dong Woog;
  • Kristiansen, Kai;
  • Donaldson, Stephen H;
  • Cadirov, Nicholas;
  • Banquy, Xavier;
  • Israelachvili, Jacob N
  • et al.

Membrane fusion is the core process in membrane trafficking and is essential for cellular transport of proteins and other biomacromolecules. During protein-mediated membrane fusion, membrane proteins are often excluded from the membrane-membrane contact, indicating that local structural transformations in lipid domains play a major role. However, the rearrangements of lipid domains during fusion have not been thoroughly examined. Here using a newly developed Fluorescence Surface Forces Apparatus (FL-SFA), migration of liquid-disordered clusters and depletion of liquid-ordered domains at the membrane-membrane contact are imaged in real time during hemifusion of model lipid membranes, together with simultaneous force-distance and lipid membrane thickness measurements. The load and contact time-dependent hemifusion results show that the domain rearrangements decrease the energy barrier to fusion, illustrating the significance of dynamic domain transformations in membrane fusion processes. Importantly, the FL-SFA can unambiguously correlate interaction forces and in situ imaging in many dynamic interfacial systems.

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