Conformations and membrane-driven self-organization of rodlike fd virus particles on freestanding lipid membranes†
Membrane-mediated interactions and aggregation of colloidal particles adsorbed to responsive elastic membranes are challenging problems relevant for understanding the microscopic organization and dynamics of biological membranes. We experimentally study the behavior of rodlike semiflexible fd virus particles electrostatically adsorbed to freestanding cationic lipid membranes and find that their behavior can be controlled by tuning the membrane charge and ionic strength of the surrounding medium. Three distinct interaction regimes of rodlike virus particles with responsive elastic membranes can be observed. (i) A weakly charged freestanding cationic lipid bilayer in a low ionic strength medium represents a gentle quasi-2D substrate preserving the integrity, structure, and mechanical properties of the membrane-bound semiflexible fd virus, which under these conditions is characterized by a monomer length of 884 ± 4 nm and a persistence length of 2.5 ± 0.2 μm, in perfect agreement with its properties in bulk media. (ii) An increase in the membrane charge leads to the membrane-driven collapse of fd virus particles on freestanding lipid bilayers and lipid nanotubes into compact globules. (iii) When the membrane charge is low, and the mutual electrostatic repulsion of membrane-bound virus particles is screened to a considerable degree, membrane-driven self-organization of membrane-bound fd virus particles into long linear tip-to-tip aggregates showing dynamic self-assembly/disassembly and quasi-semiflexible behavior takes place. These observations are in perfect agreement with the results of recent theoretical and simulation studies predicting that membrane-mediated interactions can control the behavior of colloidal particles adsorbed on responsive elastic membranes.