On-demand self-assembly of supported membranes using sacrificial, anhydrobiotic sugar coats


Thomas Wilkop, Jeremy Sanborn, Ann E. Oliver, Joshua M. Hanson, and Atul N. Parikh, Journal of the American Chemical Society (communication) 136, 60–63, 2014

Borrowing principles of anhydrobiosis, we have developed a technique for self-assembling proteolipid-supported membranes on demand—simply by adding water. Intact lipid- and proteolipid vesicles dispersed in aqueous solutions of anhydrobiotic trehalose are vitrified on arbitrary substrates, producing glassy coats encapsulating biomolecules. Previous efforts establish that these carbohydrate coats arrest molecular mobilities and preserve native conformations and aggregative states of the embedded biomolecules, thereby enabling long-term storage. Subsequent rehydration, even after an extended period of time (e.g., weeks), devitrifies sugar—releasing the cargo and unmasking the substrate surface—thus triggering substrate-mediated vesicle fusion in real time, producing supported membranes. Using this method, arrays of membranes, including those functionalized with membrane proteins, can be readily produced in situ by spatially addressing vitrification using common patterning tools—useful for multiplexed or stochastic sensing and assaying of target interactions with the fluid and functional membrane surface.

DOI: 10.1021/ja410866w