Issue 20, 2014

Induced phagocytic particle uptake into a giant unilamellar vesicle


Phagocytosis, the uptake and ingestion of solid particles into living cells, is a central mechanism of our immune system. Due to the complexity of the uptake mechanism, the different forces involved in this process are only partly understood. Therefore the usage of a giant unilamellar vesicle (GUV) as the simplest biomimetic model for a cell allows one to investigate the influence of the lipid membrane on the energetics of the uptake process. Here, a photonic force microscope (PFM) is used to approach an optically trapped 1 μm latex bead to an immobilized GUV to finally insert the particle into the GUV. By analysing the mean displacement and the position fluctuations of the trapped particle during the uptake process in 3D with nanometre precision, we are able to record force and energy profiles, as well as changes in the viscous drag and the stiffness. After observing a global followed by a local deformation of the GUV, we measured uptake energies of 2000 kT to 5500 kT and uptake forces of 4 pN to 16 pN for Egg-PC GUVs with sizes of 18–26 μm and varying membrane tension. The measured energy profiles, which are compared to a Helfrich energy model for local and global deformation, show good coincidence with the theoretical results. Our proof-of-principle study opens the door to a large number of similar experiments with GUVs containing more biochemical components and complexity. This bottom-up strategy should allow for a better understanding of the physics of phagocytosis.

Graphical abstract: Induced phagocytic particle uptake into a giant unilamellar vesicle

Article information

Article type
26 Nov 2013
17 Feb 2014
First published
27 Mar 2014
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2014,10, 3667-3678

Induced phagocytic particle uptake into a giant unilamellar vesicle

A. Meinel, B. Tränkle, W. Römer and A. Rohrbach, Soft Matter, 2014, 10, 3667 DOI: 10.1039/C3SM52964A

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