The European Physical Journal E

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 141–146 | Cite as

Elastic interaction between "hard" or "soft" pointwise inclusions on biological membranes

  • D. Bartolo
  • J.-B. FournierEmail author


We calculate the induced elastic interaction between pointwise membrane inclusions that locally interact up to quadratic order with the membrane curvature tensor. For isotropic inclusions, we recover the usual interaction proportional to the inverse fourth power of the separation, however with a prefactor showing a non-trivial dependence on the rigidity Γ of the quadratic potential. In the large-Γ limit, corresponding to "hard" inclusions, we recover the standard prefactor first obtained by Goulian et al. (Europhys. Lett. 22, 145 (1993)). In the small-Γ limit, corresponding to "soft" inclusions, we recover the recent result of Marchenko and Misbah (Eur. Phys. J. E 8, 477 (2002)). This shows that the latter result bears no fundamental discrepancy with previous works, but simply corresponds to the limit of soft inclusions. We discuss how the same inclusion can be depicted as hard or soft according to the degree of coarse-graining of the pointwise description. Finally, we argue that conical transmembrane proteins should be fundamentally considered as hard inclusions.


87.16.Dg Membranes, bilayers, and vesicles 87.15.Kg Molecular interactions; membrane-protein interactions 


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, Società Italiana di Fisica 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physico-Chimie Théorique, ESPCIFédération de Recherche CNRS 2438 "Matière et Systèmes Complexes"Paris cedex 05France

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