Confined filaments in soft vesicles – the case of sickle red blood cells
Abnormal shapes of red blood cells (RBC) have been associated with various diseases. Diverse RBC shapes have also been intriguing for membrane biophysics. Here we focus on sickle shaped RBC which form due to abnormal growth of semi-rigid hemoglobin (HbS) fibers confined in RBC. Using the area difference elasticity (ADE) model for RBC and worm-like chain model for the confined HbS fibers, we explore shape deformations at equilibrium using Monte-Carlo simulations. We show that while a single HbS fiber is not rigid enough to produce sickle like deformation, a fiber bundle can do so. We also consider multiple disjoint filaments and find that confinement can generate multipolar RBC shapes and can even promote helical filament conformations which have not been discussed before. We show that the same model, when applied to microtubules confined in phospholipid vesicles, predicts vesicle tubulation. In addition we reproduce the tube collapse transition and tennis racket type vesicle shapes, as reported in experiments. We conclude that with a decrease in the surface area to volume ratio, and membrane rigidity, the vesicles prefer tubulation over sickling. The highlight of this work is several important non-axisymmetric RBC and vesicle shapes, which have never been explored in simulations.