Shapes of bilayer vesicles with membrane embedded molecules

Abstract

The interdependence of the lateral distribution of molecules which are embedded in a membrane (such as integral membrane proteins) and the shape of a cell with no internal structure (such as phospholipid vesicles or mammalian erythrocytes) has been studied. The coupling of the lateral distribution of the molecules and the cell shape is introduced by considering that the energy of the membrane embedded molecule at a given site of the membrane depends on the curvature of the membrane at that site. Direct interactions between embedded molecules are not considered. A simple expression for the interaction of the membrane embedded molecule with the local membrane curvature is proposed. Starting from this interaction, the consistently related expressions for the free energy and for the distribution function of the embedded molecules are derived. The equilibrium cell shape and the corresponding lateral distribution of the membrane embedded molecules are determined by minimization of the membrane free energy which includes the free energy of the membrane embedded molecules and the membrane elastic energy. The resulting inhomogeneous distribution of the membrane embedded molecules affects the cell shape in a nontrivial manner. In particular, it is shown that the shape corresponding to the absolute energy minimum at given cell volume and membrane area may be elliptically non-axisymmetric, in contrast to the case of a laterally homogeneous membrane where it is axisymmetric.

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Kralj-Iglič, V., Svetina, S. & Žekž, B. Shapes of bilayer vesicles with membrane embedded molecules. Eur Biophys J 24, 311–321 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00180372

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Key words

  • Membrane embedded molecules Vesicle shape
  • Lateral distribution