Calcium-ion-controlled nanoparticle-induced tubulation in supported flat phospholipid vesicles
Journal article, 2011
Biological nanotubes, often referred to as tunneling nanotubes, fulfill important functions within the cell, e.g. by supplying cell components, conducting signals and transporting virus particles and bacteria. Many functions are still insufficiently understood, which has placed these nanostructures in the focus of recent investigation. We report here on our observations of transient tubulation in nanoparticle-containing, supported flat giant unilamellar vesicles (FGUVs). The encapsulation of nanoparticles in FGUVs in conjunction with low (1-4 mM) Ca(2+) in the ambient buffer solution resulted in transient tube formation. Tubes extended from the FGUV up to a length of several hundred micrometres and exhibited, on some occasions, vesicle encapsulation. The findings represent an interesting confirmation of several reported theoretical and practical models of tube formation in biological or biomimetic systems.