Synthetic Membrane Shaper for Controlled Liposome Deformation

ACS Nano. 2022 Nov 28;17(2):966-978. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.2c06125. Online ahead of print.


Shape defines the structure and function of cellular membranes. In cell division, the cell membrane deforms into a "dumbbell" shape, while organelles such as the autophagosome exhibit "stomatocyte" shapes. Bottom-up in vitro reconstitution of protein machineries that stabilize or resolve the membrane necks in such deformed liposome structures is of considerable interest to characterize their function. Here we develop a DNA-nanotechnology-based approach that we call the synthetic membrane shaper (SMS), where cholesterol-linked DNA structures attach to the liposome membrane to reproducibly generate high yields of stomatocytes and dumbbells. In silico simulations confirm the shape-stabilizing role of the SMS. We show that the SMS is fully compatible with protein reconstitution by assembling bacterial divisome proteins (DynaminA, FtsZ:ZipA) at the catenoidal neck of these membrane structures. The SMS approach provides a general tool for studying protein binding to complex membrane geometries that will greatly benefit synthetic cell research.

Keywords: Dynamin A; FtsZ; cell division; dumbbell; membrane deformation; stomatocyte.