Phase separation dynamics and lateral organization of two-component lipid membranes

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The non-equilibrium dynamic ordering process of coexisting phases has been studied for two-component lipid bilayers composed of saturated di-acyl phospholipids with different acyl chain lengths, such as DC14PC-DC18PC and DC12PC-DC18PC. By means of a microscopic interaction model and computer-simulation techniques the non-equilibrium properties of these two mixtures have been determined with particular attention paid to the effects of the non-equilibrium ordering process on membrane heterogeneity in terms of local and global lateral membrane organization. The results reveal that a sudden temperature change that takes the lipid mixture from the fluid one-phase region into the gel-fluid phase-coexistence region leads to the formation of a large number of small lipid domains which slowly are growing in time. The growth of the lipid domains, which is limited by long-range diffusion of the lipid molecules within the two-dimensional membrane plane, gives rise to the existence of a highly heterogeneous percolative-like structure with a network of interfacial regions that have properties different from those of the phase-separated gel and fluid bulk phases. The results, which are discussed in relation to recent experimental observations interpreted in terms of a percolative-like membrane structure within the two phase region (Almeida, P.F.F., Vaz, W.L.C., and T.E. Thompson. 1992. Biochemistry 31:7198–7210), suggest that non-equilibrium effects may influence lipid domain formation and membrane organization on various length and time scales. Such effects might be of importance in relation to membrane processes that require molecular mobility of the membrane components in restricted geometrical environments of the compartmentalized lipid membrane.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)942-954
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995

ID: 236888929