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Issue 46, 2012
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Homo-polymers with balanced hydrophobicity translocate through lipid bilayers and enhance local solvent permeability

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Abstract

Recent experimental studies indicate that polymeric structures with a well-adjusted balance of amphiphilic parts may translocate through self-assembled phospholipid bilayers and enhance the passive trans-membrane transport of smaller molecules. Using a coarse grained lattice Monte Carlo model with explicit solvent we investigate self-assembled lipid bilayers interacting with a linear polymer chain under variation of the hydrophobicity of the chain. Here, we focus on the relationship between the chain's hydrophobicity and its translocation behavior through the membrane as well as induced membrane perturbations. We show, that there is an adsorption transition of the polymer at the bilayer interface, where effectively the solvent phase and the tail phase of the bilayer are equally repulsive for the polymer. Close to this adsorption threshold of the polymer both the translocation probability of the polymer as well as the permeability of the membrane with respect to solvent are enhanced significantly. The frequency of polymer translocation events can be understood quantitatively assuming a simple diffusion along a one-dimensional free energy profile, which is controlled by the effective lipophilicity of the chain and the tail-packing in the bilayer's core.

Graphical abstract: Homo-polymers with balanced hydrophobicity translocate through lipid bilayers and enhance local solvent permeability

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Publication details

The article was received on 30 Apr 2012, accepted on 28 Jun 2012 and first published on 15 Aug 2012


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2SM26008E
Citation: Soft Matter, 2012,8, 11714-11722
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    Homo-polymers with balanced hydrophobicity translocate through lipid bilayers and enhance local solvent permeability

    M. Werner, J. Sommer and V. A. Baulin, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 11714
    DOI: 10.1039/C2SM26008E

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