Issue 28, 2017

Curvature variation controls particle aggregation on fluid vesicles


Cellular membranes exhibit a large variety of shapes, strongly coupled to their function. Many biological processes involve dynamic reshaping of membranes, usually mediated by proteins. This interaction works both ways: while proteins influence the membrane shape, the membrane shape affects the interactions between the proteins. To study these membrane-mediated interactions on closed and anisotropically curved membranes, we use colloids adhered to ellipsoidal membrane vesicles as a model system. We find that two particles on a closed system always attract each other, and tend to align with the direction of largest curvature. Multiple particles form arcs, or, at large enough numbers, a complete ring surrounding the vesicle in its equatorial plane. The resulting vesicle shape resembles a snowman. Our results indicate that these physical interactions on membranes with anisotropic shapes can be exploited by cells to drive macromolecules to preferred regions of cellular or intracellular membranes, and utilized to initiate dynamic processes such as cell division. The same principle could be used to find the midplane of an artificial vesicle, as a first step towards dividing it into two equal parts.

Graphical abstract: Curvature variation controls particle aggregation on fluid vesicles

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
01 Mar 2017
15 Jun 2017
First published
15 Jun 2017
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2017,13, 4924-4930

Curvature variation controls particle aggregation on fluid vesicles

A. Vahid, A. Šarić and T. Idema, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 4924 DOI: 10.1039/C7SM00433H

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity