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Representative Results






Assembly of Cell Mimicking Supported and Suspended Lipid Bilayer Models for the Study of Molecular Interactions

Published: August 3rd, 2021



1Department of Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 2Center for Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering, Brown University

This protocol describes the formation of cell mimicking uni-lipid and multi-lipid vesicles, supported lipid bilayers, and suspended lipid bilayers. These in vitro models can be adapted to incorporate a variety of lipid types and can be used to investigate various molecule and macromolecule interactions.

Model cell membranes are a useful screening tool with applications ranging from early drug discovery to toxicity studies. The cell membrane is a crucial protective barrier for all cell types, separating the internal cellular components from the extracellular environment. These membranes are composed largely of a lipid bilayer, which contains outer hydrophilic head groups and inner hydrophobic tail groups, along with various proteins and cholesterol. The composition and structure of the lipids themselves play a crucial role in regulating biological function, including interactions between cells and the cellular microenvironment, which may contain pharmaceuticals, biological toxins, and environmental toxicants. In this study, methods to formulate uni-lipid and multi-lipid supported and suspended cell mimicking lipid bilayers are described. Previously, uni-lipid phosphatidylcholine (PC) lipid bilayers as well as multi-lipid placental trophoblast-inspired lipid bilayers were developed for use in understanding molecular interactions. Here, methods for achieving both types of bilayer models will be presented. For cell mimicking multi-lipid bilayers, the desired lipid composition is first determined via lipid extraction from primary cells or cell lines followed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Using this composition, lipid vesicles are fabricated using a thin-film hydration and extrusion method and their hydrodynamic diameter and zeta potential are characterized. Supported and suspended lipid bilayers can then be formed using quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) and on a porous membrane for use in a parallel artificial membrane permeability assay (PAMPA), respectively. The representative results highlight the reproducibility and versatility of in vitro cell membrane lipid bilayer models. The methods presented can aid in rapid, facile assessment of the interaction mechanisms, such as permeation, adsorption, and embedment, of various molecules and macromolecules with a cell membrane, helping in the screening of drug candidates and prediction of potential cellular toxicity.

The cell membrane, composed primarily of phospholipids, cholesterol, and proteins, is a crucial component of all living cells1. With organization driven by lipid amphiphilicity, the cell membrane functions as a protective barrier and regulates how the cell interacts with its surrounding environment2. Several cellular processes are dependent on the lipid and protein composition of the membrane1,2. For example, cell membrane interactions are important for effective drug delivery3. Pharmaceuticals, biologics, nanomaterials, biological toxins,....

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1. Developing uni-lipid vesicles

  1. Thin-film hydration method
    1. Preparation and storage of lipid stock solutions
      NOTE: All steps using chloroform need to be performed in a chemical fume hood. Chloroform should always be pipetted using solvent safe carbon fiber pipette tips. Solutions containing chloroform should always be stored in glass vials.
      1. Prepare a 10 mg/mL lipid stock solution by adding the appropriate volume of chloroform into the vial containing the lipid powder and mix .......

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This protocol details methods for forming supported and suspended lipid bilayers (Figure 1). The first step to forming a supported lipid bilayer is to develop lipid vesicles. The mini extruder allows for small volumes of lipid vesicles to be prepared (1 mL or less), while the large extruder allows for 5-50 mL of lipid vesicles to be prepared in one batch. Size distributions of uni-lipid vesicles formed by either the mini or large extruder are shown in Figure 2A........

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This protocol allows for the formation of lipid vesicles, supported lipid bilayers, and suspended lipid bilayers. Here, critical steps are presented to form each of these structures. When forming lipid vesicles, it is important to extrude above the transition temperature of the lipid39. When below the transition temperature, the lipid is physically present in its ordered gel phase39. In this ordered phase the hydrocarbon lipid tails are fully extended allowing for close pac.......

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1942418 awarded to A.S., and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to C.M.B.H., under Grant No. 1644760. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The authors thank Dr. Noel Vera-González for lipid vesicle characterization data acquisition. The authors thank Professor Robert Hurt (Brown University) for the use of his Zetasizer. The authors thank the Brown University Mass Spectrometry Facility, in pa....

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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-glycero-3-phosphocholine  (POPC, 16:0-18:1 PC) Avanti Polar Lipids 850457
1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phospho-L-serine (sodium salt) (POPS, 16:0-18:1 PS) Avanti Polar Lipids 840034
1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (16:0-18:1 PE) Avanti Polar Lipids 850757
1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-2-phospho-L-serine (DOPS, 18:1 PS) Avanti Polar Lipids 840035
1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC, 18:1 (Δ9-Cis) PC) Avanti Polar Lipids 850375
1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (DOPE, 18:1 (Δ9-Cis) PE) Avanti Polar Lipids 850725
1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-ethylphosphocholine (chloride salt) (18:0 EPC (Cl Salt)) Avanti Polar Lipids 890703
3 mL Luer-Loc syringes BD 309657
40 mL sample vial, amber with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)/rubber liner Duran Wheaton Kimble W224605
Acetonitrile Sigma-Aldrich 271004
Alconox Fisher Scientific 50-821-781
Ammonium formate Millipore Sigma LSAC70221
C18, 3.5 um x 50 mm column, SunFire Waters  186002551
Chloroform Millipore Sigma LSAC288306
Cuvette UV Micro LCH 8.5 mm, 50 um, RPK Sarstedt 67.758.001
Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) Millipore Sigma 36735
Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) Millipore Sigma LSAC472301
Ethanol Pharmco 111000200
Filter supports, 10 mm Avanti Polar Lipids 610014 Size for mini extruder
Folded capillary zeta cell Malvern Panalytical DTS1070
Isopropanol Sigma-Aldrich 190764-4L
Kimwipes Kimberly Clark 34256
L-α-phosphatidylinositol (soy) (Soy PI) Avanti Polar Lipids 840044
L-α-phosphitidylcholine (Egg, Chicken) Avanti Polar Lipids 840051
LiposoFast ® LF-50 Avestin, Inc.
Methanol Sigma-Aldrich 179337 - 4L
Mini-extruder set with holder/heating block Avanti Polar Lipids 610000
MultiScreen-IP Filter Plate, 0.45 µm, clear, sterile Millipore Sigma MAIPS4510 for PAMPA studies
Nitrogen gas, ultrapure TechAir NI T5.0
Nuclepore hydrophilic membranes, polycarbonate, 19 mm, 0.1 um Whatman 800309 Size for mini extruder
Nuclepore hydrophilic membranes, polycarbonate, 25 mm, 0.1 um Whatman 110605 Size for large extruder
Parafilm Bemis PM999
Phosphate buffer saline (PBS), 10x Genesee Scienfitic 25-507X Dilute to 1x
Qsoft 401 software Biolin Scientific
Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation Q-Sense Analyzer Biolin Scientific
Scintillation vials, borosilicate glass vials, 20 mL Duran Wheaton Kimble 986561
Silicon Dioxide, thin QSensors Biolin Scientific QSX 303
Sodium chloride (NaCl) Millipore Sigma LSACS5886
Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) Fisher Scientific BP166-100
Solvent Safe pipette tips Sigma-Aldrich S8064
Sphingomyelin (Egg, Chicken) Avanti Polar Lipids 860061
Trizma base Millipore Sigma LSACT1503
Trypsin-ethylenediaminetretaacetic acid Caisson Labs TRL01-6X100ML
Whatman drain disc, 25 mm Whatman 230600 Size for large extruder
Zetasizer ZS90 Malvern Panalytical
Zetasizer 7.01 software Malvern Panalytical

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