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Issue 27, 2012
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Stalk-free membrane fusion of cationic lipidsvia an interdigitated phase

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We have studied the membrane structure of a cationic lipid (N-t-butyl-N′-tetradecyl-3-tetradecylaminopropionamidine, termed diC14-amidine) using X-ray and neutron small-angle scattering as well as dilatometry and ultrasound velocimetry. At high temperatures we found an anomalously thin lamellar fluid phase, which transforms into a loosely packed interdigitated phase below the chain melting transition. Our finding can be understood based on the specific structure of the lipid backbone, which forms a long spacer between the alkyl chains. The loose lipid packing in the gel phase leads to a significant exposure of the hydrophobic lipid core to the aqueous phase. This reduces energy penalties from the removal of water molecules during fusion and explains the untypically increased fusion properties of amidine in the gel phase. Moreover, this fusion in the gel interdigitated state apparently does not require the formation of stalk intermediate structures.

Graphical abstract: Stalk-free membrane fusion of cationic lipids via an interdigitated phase

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Article information

22 Mar 2012
24 Apr 2012
First published
11 Jun 2012

Soft Matter, 2012,8, 7243-7249
Article type

Stalk-free membrane fusion of cationic lipids via an interdigitated phase

G. Pabst, C. Lonez, M. Vandenbranden, J. Jestin, A. Radulescu, J. Ruysschaert and T. Gutberlet, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 7243
DOI: 10.1039/C2SM25665G

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