A novel fluorescence microscopic approach to quantitatively analyse protein-induced membrane remodelling

J Biosci. 2018 Jul;43(3):431-435.


Membrane remodelling or the bending and rupture of the lipid bilayer occurs during diverse cellular processes such as cell division, synaptic transmission, vesicular transport, organelle biogenesis and sporulation. These activities are brought about by the localized change in membrane curvature, which in turn causes lipid-packing stress, of a planar lipid bilayer by proteins. For instance, vesicular transport processes are typically characterized by the cooperative recruitment of proteins that induce budding of a planar membrane and catalyse fission of the necks of membrane buds to release vesicles. The analysis of such membrane remodelling reactions has traditionally been restricted to electron microscopy-based approaches or force spectroscopic analysis of membrane tethers pulled from liposome-based model membrane systems. Our recent work has demonstrated the facile creation of tubular model membrane systems of supported membrane tubes (SMrTs), which mimic late-stage intermediates of typical vesicular transport reactions. This review addresses the nature of such an assay system and a fluorescence-intensity-based analysis of changes in tube dimensions that is indicative of the membrane remodelling capacity of proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Liposomes / chemistry
  • Liposomes / metabolism
  • Liposomes / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Microtubules / chemistry
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure*
  • Organelle Biogenesis
  • Phospholipids / chemistry
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Transport Vesicles / chemistry
  • Transport Vesicles / metabolism
  • Transport Vesicles / ultrastructure*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Liposomes
  • Phospholipids