, Volume 48, Issue 10, pp 955-963,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 18 Jun 2010

Engineering supported membranes for cell biology

Abstract

Cell membranes exhibit multiple layers of complexity, ranging from their specific molecular content to their emergent mechanical properties and dynamic spatial organization. Both compositional and geometrical organizations of membrane components are known to play important roles in life processes, including signal transduction. Supported membranes, comprised of a bilayer assembly of phospholipids on the solid substrate, have been productively served as model systems to study wide range problems in cell biology. Because lateral mobility of membrane components is readily preserved, supported lipid membranes with signaling molecules can be utilized to effectively trigger various intercellular reactions. The spatial organization and mechanical deformation of supported membranes can also be manipulated by patterning underlying substrates with modern micro- and nano-fabrication techniques. This article focuses on various applications and methods to spatially patterned biomembranes by means of curvature modulations and spatial reorganizations, and utilizing them to interface with live cells. The integration of biological components into synthetic devices provides a unique approach to investigate molecular mechanisms in cell biology.