Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 47, 2019
Previous Article Next Article

Actin shells control buckling and wrinkling of biomembranes

Author affiliations


Global changes of cell shape under mechanical or osmotic external stresses are mostly controlled by the mechanics of the cortical actin cytoskeleton underlying the cell membrane. Some aspects of this process can be recapitulated in vitro on reconstituted actin-and-membrane systems. In this paper, we investigate how the mechanical properties of a branched actin network shell, polymerized at the surface of a liposome, control membrane shape when the volume is reduced. We observe a variety of membrane shapes depending on the actin thickness. Thin shells undergo buckling, characterized by a cup-shape deformation of the membrane that coincides with the one of the actin network. Thick shells produce membrane wrinkles, but do not deform their outer layer. For intermediate micrometer-thick shells, wrinkling of the membrane is observed, and the actin layer is slightly deformed. Confronting our experimental results with a theoretical description, we determine the transition between buckling and wrinkling, which depends on the thickness of the actin shell and the size of the liposome. We thus unveil the generic mechanism by which biomembranes are able to accommodate their shape against mechanical compression, through thickness adaptation of their cortical cytoskeleton.

Graphical abstract: Actin shells control buckling and wrinkling of biomembranes

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information

20 Sep 2019
31 Oct 2019
First published
06 Nov 2019

Soft Matter, 2019,15, 9647-9653
Article type

Actin shells control buckling and wrinkling of biomembranes

R. Kusters, C. Simon, R. Lopes Dos Santos, V. Caorsi, S. Wu, J. Joanny, P. Sens and C. Sykes, Soft Matter, 2019, 15, 9647
DOI: 10.1039/C9SM01902B

Social activity

Search articles by author