Supported membranes, formed as a single continuous lipid bilayer on a solid substrate, such as silica, have been used extensively as a model for protein-protein and cell-cell interaction, to study the molecular interactions at interfaces and the heterogeneities of plasma membranes. The advantages of a supported membrane system include the ability to control membrane composition and the compatibility it has with various surface-sensitive microscopic and spectroscopic techniques. Recent advances in micro- and nanotechnology have greatly extended the use of supported membranes to address key questions in cell biology. Although supported membranes can be easily made by vesicle fusion, the samples need careful preparation for this process to be efficient. The protocols in this unit comprehensively describe procedures to prepare, functionalize, and characterize supported membranes. Curr. Protoc. Chem. Biol. 2:235-269 © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Keywords: fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP); membrane functionalization; photolithography; quantitative fluorescence measurement; small unilamellar vesicle (SUV); supported lipid bilayer; supported membrane.