Surface-Induced X-Ray Reflection Visualization of Membrane Orientation and Fusion into Multibilayers

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Science  07 Sep 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4973, pp. 1161-1163
DOI: 10.1126/science.249.4973.1161


The fusion of lipid membranes at the air-water interface has been detected with the use of x-ray reflection as a high-resolution, surface-sensitive technique. The rate of this fusion for dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) bilayers is the highest at 29°C, which coincides with the chain-melting phase-transition temperature for the top membrane layers. After 6 hours of incubation a stack of at least ten surface-ordered membrane bilayers in equilibrium with the bulk vesicle suspension is formed. Such fusion is thus surface-catalyzed but not restricted to the first surface layer. The process involves partial membrane dehydration near the solution surface which decreases toward the bulk.

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