Probing the association of triblock copolymers with supported lipid membranes using microcantilevers†
Pluronics are a class of amphiphilic triblock copolymers that are known to interact with cellular membranes in interesting ways. The solubility of these triblock copolymers in free lipid membranes can be altered with temperature, allowing the possibility of tuning their membrane insertion. However, for supported lipid membranes, the asymmetric local environment and the strong influence of the solid support can alter the solubility of these triblock copolymers in lipid membranes. Here, we probe the interactions of these copolymers with supported lipid membranes using microcantilevers and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) measurements. We measure the solubility and interactions of triblock copolymers (F68 and F98) in supported lipid bilayers as a function of temperature and the length of the copolymer lipophilic block. A Langmuir isotherm model and a free mean area theory are applied to describe the polymer–lipid interactions at the microcantilever surface, determine association constants, and analyze the effect of triblock copolymers on lateral lipid diffusion.