Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

Slow Relaxation of Shape and Orientational Texture in Membrane Gel Domains.

PMID 26501924


Gel domains in lipid bilayers are structurally more complex than fluid domains. Growth dynamics can lead to noncircular domains with a heterogeneous orientational texture. Most model membrane studies involving gel domain morphology and lateral organization assume the domains to be static. Here we show that rosette shaped gel domains, with heterogeneous orientational texture and a central topological defect, after early stage growth, undergo slow relaxation. On a time scale of days to weeks domains converge to circular shapes and approach uniform texture. 1,2-Dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) enriched gel domains are grown by cooling 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC):DPPC bilayers into the solid-liquid phase coexistence region and are visualized with fluorescence microscopy. The relaxation of individual domains is quantified through image analysis of time-lapse image series. We find a shape relaxation mechanism which is inconsistent with Ostwald ripening and coalescence as observed in membrane systems with coexisting liquid phases. Moreover, domain texture changes in parallel with the changes in domain shape, and selective melting and growth of particular subdomains cause the texture to become more uniform. We propose a relaxation mechanism based on relocation of lipids from high-energy lattice positions, through evaporation-condensation and edge diffusion, to low-energy positions. The relaxation process is modified significantly by binding Shiga toxin, a bacterial toxin from Shigella dysenteriae, to the membrane surface. Binding alters the equilibrium shape of the gel domains from circular to eroded rosettes with disjointed subdomains. This observation may be explained by edge diffusion while evaporation-condensation is restricted, and it provides further support for the proposed overall relaxation mechanism.