Generating biomembrane-like local curvature in polymersomes via dynamic polymer insertion

April 26, 2021


Generating biomembrane-like local curvature in polymersomes via dynamic polymer insertion


Jiawei Sun




Nature Communications


Biomembrane curvature formation has long been observed to be essential in the change of membrane morphology and intracellular processes. The significant importance of curvature formation has attracted scientists from different backgrounds to study it. Although magnificent progress has been achieved using liposome models, the instability of these models restrict further exploration. Here, we report a new approach to mimic biomembrane curvature formation using polymersomes as a model, and poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) to induce the local curvature based on its co-nonsolvency phenomenon. Curvatures form when poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) becomes hydrophobic and inserts into the membrane through solvent addition. The insertion area can be fine-tuned by adjusting the poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) concentration, accompanied by the formation of new polymersome-based non-axisymmetric shapes. Moreover, a systematic view of curvature formation is provided through investigation of the segregation, local distribution and dissociation of inserted poly(N-isopropylacrylamide). This strategy successfully mimicks biomembrane curvature formation in polymersomes and a detailed observation of the insertion can be beneficial for a further understanding of the curvature formation process. Furthermore, polymer insertion induced shape changing could open up new routes for the design of non-axisymmetric nanocarriers and nanomachines to enrich the boundless possibilities of nanotechnology.




Biomembrane, liposome, nanocarriers, nanomachines, nanotechnology