Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP

Tethered bilayer lipid micromembranes for single-channel recording: the role of adsorbed and partially fused lipid vesicles.

PMID 21701758


A mercury-supported bilayer lipid micromembrane was prepared by anchoring a thiolipid monolayer to a mercury cap electrodeposited on a platinum microdisc about 20 μm in diameter; a lipid monolayer was then self-assembled on top of the thiolipid monolayer either by vesicle fusion or by spilling a few drops of a lipid solution in chloroform on the cap and allowing the solvent to evaporate. Single-channel recording following incorporation of the alamethicin channel-forming peptide exhibits quite different features, depending on the procedure followed to form the distal lipid monolayer. The "spilling" procedure, which avoids the formation of adsorbed or partially fused vesicles, yields very sharp single-channel currents lasting only one or two milliseconds. These are ascribed to ionic flux into the hydrophilic spacer moiety of the thiolipid. Conversely, the vesicle-fusion procedure yields much longer single-channel openings analogous to those obtained with conventional bilayer lipid membranes, albeit smaller. This difference in behavior is explained by ascribing the latter single-channel currents to ionic flux into vesicles adsorbed and/or partially fused onto the tethered lipid bilayer, via capacitive coupling.