Force measurements on natural membrane nanovesicles reveal a composition-independent, high Young's modulus†
Mechanical properties of nano-sized vesicles made up of natural membranes are crucial to the development of stable, biocompatible nanocontainers with enhanced functional, recognition and sensing capabilities. Here we measure and compare the mechanical properties of plasma and inner membrane nanovesicles ∼80 nm in diameter obtained from disrupted yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells. We provide evidence of a highly deformable behaviour for these vesicles, able to support repeated wall-to-wall compressions without irreversible deformations, accompanied by a noticeably high Young's modulus (∼300 MPa) compared to that obtained for reconstituted artificial liposomes of similar size and approaching that of some virus particles. Surprisingly enough, the results are approximately similar for plasma and inner membrane nanovesicles, in spite of their different lipid compositions, especially on what concerns the ergosterol content. These results point towards an important structural role of membrane proteins in the mechanical response of natural membrane vesicles and open the perspective to their potential use as robust nanocontainers for bioapplications.