The role of membrane curvature for the wrapping of nanoparticles
Cellular internalization of nanoparticles requires the full wrapping of the nanoparticles by the cell membrane. This wrapping process can occur spontaneously if the adhesive interactions between the nanoparticles and the membranes are sufficiently strong to compensate for the cost of membrane bending. In this article, we show that the membrane curvature prior to wrapping plays a key role for the wrapping process, besides the size and shape of the nanoparticles that have been investigated in recent years. For membrane segments that initially bulge away from nanoparticles by having a mean curvature of the same sign as the mean curvature of the particle surface, we find strongly stable partially wrapped states that can prevent full wrapping. For membrane segments that initially bulge towards the nanoparticles, in contrast, partially wrapped states can constitute a significant energetic barrier for the wrapping process.