Coexisting stripe- and patch-shaped domains in giant unilamellar vesicles

Biochemistry. 2006 Oct 3;45(39):11819-26. doi: 10.1021/bi060808h.


We report a new type of gel-liquid phase segregation in giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) of mixed lipids. Coexisting patch- and stripe-shaped gel domains in GUV bilayers composed of DOPC/DPPC or DLPC/DPPC are observed by confocal fluorescence microscopy. The lipids in stripe domains are shown to be tilted according to the DiIC18 fluorescence intensity dependence on the excitation polarization. The patch domains are found to be mainly composed of DPPC-d62 according to the coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) images of DOPC/DPPC-d62 bilayers. When cooling GUVs from above the miscibility temperature, the patch domains start to appear between the chain melting and the pretransition temperature of DPPC. In GUVs containing a high molar percentage of DPPC, the stripe domains form below the pretransition temperature. Our observations suggest that the patch and stripe domains are in the Pbeta' and Lbeta' gel phases, respectively. According to the thermoelastic properties of GUVs described by Needham and Evans [(1988) Biochemistry 27, 8261-8269], the Pbeta' and Lbeta' phases are formed at relatively low and high membrane tensions, respectively. GUVs with high DPPC percentage have high membrane surface tension and thus mainly exhibit Lbeta' domains, while GUVs with low DPPC percentage have low membrane surface tension and form Pbeta' domains accordingly. Adding negatively charged lipid to the lipid mixtures or applying an osmotic pressure to GUVs using sucrose solutions releases the surface tension and leads to the disappearance of the Lbeta' gel phase. The relationship between the observed domains in free-standing GUV bilayers and those in supported bilayers is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androstanes / chemistry
  • Hot Temperature
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Lipid Bilayers / isolation & purification
  • Liposomes / chemistry*
  • Liposomes / isolation & purification
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Phosphatidylcholines / chemistry
  • Sucrose / chemistry
  • Surface Properties


  • 3-oxo-androstan-17-yl-(2'',2'',6'',6''-tetramethyl-N-oxyl)piperidyl butan-1',4'-dioate
  • Androstanes
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Liposomes
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Sucrose
  • 1,2-linoleoylphosphatidylcholine
  • 1,2-oleoylphosphatidylcholine