Formation of geometrically complex lipid nanotube-vesicle networks of higher-order topologies
Journal article, 2002
We present a microelectrofusion method for construction of fluid-state lipid bilayer networks of high geometrical complexity up to fully connected networks with genus = 3 topology. Within networks, self-organizing branching nanotube architectures could be produced where intersections spontaneously arrange themselves into three-way junctions with an angle of 120 degrees between each nanotube. Formation of branching nanotube networks appears to follow a minimum-bending energy algorithm that solves for pathway minimization. It is also demonstrated that materials can be injected into specific containers within a network by nanotube-mediated transport of satellite vesicles having defined contents. Using a combination of microelectrofusion, spontaneous nanotube pattern formation, and satellite-vesicle injection, complex networks of containers and nanotubes can be produced for a range of applications in, for example, nanofluidics and artificial cell design. In addition, this electrofusion method allows integration of biological cells into lipid nanotube-vesicle networks.