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J Theor Biol. 2006 Jun 7;240(3):368-73. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

Curvature-induced accumulation of anisotropic membrane components and raft formation in cylindrical membrane protrusions.

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Laboratory of Physics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Trzaska 25, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Coupling between the area density of anisotropic membrane inclusions and local membrane curvature is considered theoretically for a simple case of nearly flat bilayer membrane with thin tubular membrane protrusions. Lateral phase separation, i.e. accumulation of membrane inclusions in tubular membrane protrusions was obtained for strongly anisotropic inclusions if the radius of tubular protrusions is small enough. In accordance with these theoretical predictions we observed persistence of long tubular membrane protrusions devoid of internal rod-like microtubular structure in cells. We suggest that the stability of the tubular membrane protrusions without the inner supporting rod-like cytoskeleton is a consequence of the accumulation of anisotropic membrane components in the bilayer membrane of these protrusions. Based on the presented theoretical and experimental results it is suggested that previously reported concentration of prominin rafts in thin tubular membrane protrusions may be caused by a curvature-induced accumulation of small prominin-lipid complexes (inclusions) in protrusions and their coalescence into larger rafts.

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