C. A. Naumann, O. Prucker, T. Lehmann, J. Rühe, W. Knoll, C. W. FrankThe polymer-supported phospholipid bilayer: Tethering as a new approach to substrate-membrane stabilization.Biomacromolecules. 3(1), 27-35 (2002)
We present a new molecular engineering approach in which a polymer-supported phospholipid bilayer is vertically stabilized by controlled covalent tethering at both the polymer-substrate and polymer-bilayer interfaces. This approach is based on lipopolymer molecules, which not only form a polymer cushion between the phospholipid bilayer and a solid glass substrate but also act as covalent connections (tethers) between the bilayer and cushion. Our approach involves Langmuir-Blodgett transfer of a phospholipid-lipopolymer monolayer followed by Schaefer transfer of a pure phospholipid monolayer and is capable of varying the tethering density between the polymer layer and the phospholipid bilayer in a very controlled manner. Further stabilization is achieved if the glass substrate is surface-functionalized with a benzophenone silane. In this case, a photocross-linking reaction between the polymer and benzophenone group allows for the covalent attachment of the polymer cushion to the glass substrate. This approach is similar to that recently reported by Wagner and Tamm in which double tethering is achieved via lipopolymer silanes (Wagner, M. L.; Tamm, L. K. Biophys. J. 2000, 79, 1400). To obtain a deeper understanding of how the covalent tethering affects the lateral mobility of the bilayer, we performed fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) experiments on polymer- tethered bilayers at different tethering densities (lipopolymer/phospholipid molar ratios). The FRAP data clearly indicate that the hydrophobic lipopolymer moieties act as rather immobile obstacles within the phospholipid bilayer, thereby leading to hindered diffusion of phospholipids. Whereas the high lateral diffusion coefficient of D = 17.7 mum(2)/s measured at low tethering density (5 mol % lipopolymer) indicates rather unrestricted motion within the bilayer, corresponding values at moderate (10 mol % lipopolymer) and high (30 mol % lipopolymer) tethering densities of D = 9.7 mum(2)/s and D = 1.1 mum(2)/s, respectively, show significant hindered diffusion. These results are contrary to the recent findings on similar membrane systems reported by Wagner and Tamm. in which no significant change in phospholipid diffusion was found between 0 and 10 mol % lipopolymer. Our experimental report leads to a deeper understanding of the complex problem of interlayer coupling and offers a path toward a compromise between stability of the whole system and lateral mobility within the bilayer. Furthermore, the FRAP measurements show that polymer-tethered membranes are very interesting model systems for studying problems of restricted diffusion within two-dimensional fluids.