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Controlling interactions in supported bilayers from weak electrostatic repulsion to high osmotic pressure

Hemmerle, A.; Malaquin, L.; Charitat, T.; Lecuyer, S.; Fragneto, G.; Daillant, J.

Monday 7 January 2013, by mcube

PNAS, 2012 109 (49) 19938-19942
Off-specular reflectivity on floating bilayer

Understanding interactions between membranes requires measurements on well-controlled systems close to natural conditions, in which fluctuations play an important role. We have determined, by grazing incidence X-ray scattering, the interaction potential between two lipid bilayers, one adsorbed on a solid surface and the other floating close by. We find that interactions in this highly hydrated model system are two orders of magnitude softer than in previously reported work on multilayer stacks. This is attributed to the weak electrostatic repulsion due to the small fraction of ionized lipids in supported bilayers with a lower number of defects. Our data are consistent with the Poisson-Boltzmann theory, in the regime where repulsion is dominated by the entropy of counter ions. We also have unique access to very weak entropic repulsion potentials, which allowed us to discriminate between the various models proposed in the literature. We further demonstrate that the interaction potential between supported bilayers can be tuned at will by applying osmotic pressure, providing a way to manipulate these model membranes, thus considerably enlarging the range of biological or physical problems that can be addressed.
PNAS, 2012 109 (49) 19938-19942