Micropipet-assisted formation of microscopic networks of unilamellar lipid bilayer nanotubes and containers
Journal article, 2001
We describe a novel micropipet-assisted technique for the construction of complex, surface-immobilized two-dimensional microscopic networks of unilamellar phospholipid bilayer vesicles (1-50 pm in diameter, 10(-15)-10(-12) L) interconnected by lipid nanotubes (100-300 nm in diameter). As starting material for the construction of networks, we used twinned vesicle pairs, one of which is multilamellar and functions as a membrane donor and the other unilamellar and functions as a membrane acceptor upon manipulation. By electromechanical insertion of a pipet tip into the unilamellar vesicle followed by lateral pulling of the micropipet away from the vesicle, a nanotube was formed. Buffer solution contained in the pipet was then injected into the nanotube orifice, forming a vesicle of controlled size that was immobilized on the surface. The networks have controlled connectivity and are well-defined with regard to the container size, angle between nanotube extensions, and nanotube length. The internal fluid composition of individual vesicles is defined during the formation of a network by selection of the solution contained in the micropipet.