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Open AccessFeature PaperReview

Structure and Nanomechanics of Model Membranes by Atomic Force Microscopy and Spectroscopy: Insights into the Role of Cholesterol and Sphingolipids

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Nanoprobes and Nanoswitches group, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalunya (IBEC), Barcelona 08028, Spain
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Physical Chemistry Department, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona 08028, Spain
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European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble 38043, France
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Networking Biomedical Research Center on Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN), Madrid 28028, Spain
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Structure and Dynamics of Nucleoproteic and Membrane Assemblies, Centre de Biochimie Structurale (CBS), Montpellier 34090, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Shiro Suetsugu
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes6040058
Received: 28 November 2016 / Revised: 12 December 2016 / Accepted: 14 December 2016 / Published: 19 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
Biological membranes mediate several biological processes that are directly associated with their physical properties but sometimes difficult to evaluate. Supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) are model systems widely used to characterize the structure of biological membranes. Cholesterol (Chol) plays an essential role in the modulation of membrane physical properties. It directly influences the order and mechanical stability of the lipid bilayers, and it is known to laterally segregate in rafts in the outer leaflet of the membrane together with sphingolipids (SLs). Atomic force microscope (AFM) is a powerful tool as it is capable to sense and apply forces with high accuracy, with distance and force resolution at the nanoscale, and in a controlled environment. AFM-based force spectroscopy (AFM-FS) has become a crucial technique to study the nanomechanical stability of SLBs by controlling the liquid media and the temperature variations. In this contribution, we review recent AFM and AFM-FS studies on the effect of Chol on the morphology and mechanical properties of model SLBs, including complex bilayers containing SLs. We also introduce a promising combination of AFM and X-ray (XR) techniques that allows for in situ characterization of dynamic processes, providing structural, morphological, and nanomechanical information. View Full-Text
Keywords: atomic force microscopy; force spectroscopy; lipid membranes; supported lipid bilayers; nanomechanics; cholesterol; sphingolipids; membrane structure; XR-AFM combination atomic force microscopy; force spectroscopy; lipid membranes; supported lipid bilayers; nanomechanics; cholesterol; sphingolipids; membrane structure; XR-AFM combination
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gumí-Audenis, B.; Costa, L.; Carlá, F.; Comin, F.; Sanz, F.; Giannotti, M.I. Structure and Nanomechanics of Model Membranes by Atomic Force Microscopy and Spectroscopy: Insights into the Role of Cholesterol and Sphingolipids. Membranes 2016, 6, 58.

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