The role of gel-phase domains in electroporation of vesicles

Dayinta L. Perrier, Lea Rems, Michiel T. Kreutzer, Pouyan E. Boukany*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Transient permeabilisation of the cell membrane is a critical step to introduce drugs or DNA into living cells, yet challenging for both biological research and therapeutic applications. To achieve this, electroporation (or electropermeabilisation) has become a widely used method due to its simplicity to deliver almost any biomolecule to any cell type. Although this method demonstrates promise in the field of drug/gene delivery, the underlying physical mechanisms of the response of the heterogeneous cell membrane to strong electric pulses is still unknown. In this study, we have investigated the role of gel-phase lipids in the electroporation of binary giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs), composed from DPPC (gel-phase) and DPhPC (fluid-phase) lipids (molar ratio 8:2 and 2:8). We have observed that the exposure to electric pulses leads to expel of fluid-phase lipids and concomitant decrease in GUV size, whereas the gel-phase domains become buckled. Based on experiments on pure fluid-phase and gel-phase GUVs, we have found that fluid-phase lipids can be expelled by electrical forces and the highly viscous gel-phase lipids cannot. Moreover, our analyses suggest that pore formation occurs primarily in fluid-phase domains and that the pore size is similar in all GUVs containing fluid-phase lipids, irrespective of the gel-phase percentage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4758
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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