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Polymer-Membrane Interactions

Thursday 10 October 2019, by mcube

In the living realm cell membranes interact permanently with a wide variety of polymers. On the one hand, biological polymers as peptides, DNA, proteins, to name only a few, populate biological fluids. On the other hand, nowadays way of life produces an incredibly broad range of synthetic macromolecules, that we are suspected to breath, ingest, or simply be in contact with. Two examples of how understanding polymer-membrane interactions would be of strong benefit are i) in the drug delivery domain, where unravelling how the HIV virus infects cells has already brought to light the existence and the high potential of cell-penetrating peptides, and ii) in public health problem, where up-to-date studies attempt to clarify the sensitivity of cells to nanoparticles. Our team is interested in various aspects of polymer-lipid membrane interactions. We have developed a quantitative method to quantify the adsorption of fluorescently labelled cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) on a lipid membrane. Using this method we have shown that CPP-cargo macromolecules recover affinity for a membrane under temperature driven self-assembly into micellar structures (CPP decorating corona), thanks to the induced local increase of CPP surface density. Recently, we have shown that low molecular mass polystyrene incorporates into membranes, modifying strongly the transition gel-fluid temperature Tm, acting similarly to cholesterol in binary, saturated+unsaturated lipid membranes.

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Accumulation of styrene oligomers alters lipid membrane phase order and miscibility, Mattia I. Morandi, Monika Kluzek, Jean Wolff, André Schröder, Fabrice Thalmann et Carlos M. Marques, PNAS, 26 janvier 2021