A membrane interferometer
Ganesan PV, Boxer SG
Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences USA (2009)
Category: methods, miscellaneous ¤ Added: Apr 28, 2009 ¤ Rating: ◊◊
Freestanding phospholipid bilayers have been assembled spanning shallow, micrometer-sized wells etched into a Si wafer substrate so that the bilayers are near (within hundreds of nanometers) but not in contact with the wafer surface. The proximity of the bilayers to the highly reflective Si/SiO2 interface allows them to be probed by using fluorescence-interference techniques. These interferometry measurements show that the bilayers are curved and that the curvature can be varied by changes in osmotic pressure. Furthermore, the ionophore gramicidin can be incorporated into the bilayers, making them selectively permeable to monovalent cations. This freestanding architecture may overcome surface-interaction problems that occur when cell membrane proteins are introduced into solid supported bilayers, while also allowing for high-precision measurements of changes in fluorophore position by interferometry.