Spontaneous transfer of small peripheral peptides between supported lipid bilayer and giant unilamellar vesicles

Emanuela Efodili, Ashlynn Knight, Maryem Mirza, Cedric Briones, Il Hyung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vesicular trafficking facilitates material transport between membrane-bound organelles. Membrane protein cargos are trafficked for relocation, recycling, and degradation during various physiological processes. In vitro fusion studies utilized synthetic lipid membranes to study the molecular mechanisms of vesicular trafficking and to develop synthetic materials mimicking the biological membrane trafficking. Various fusogenic conditions which can induce vesicular fusion have been used to establish synthetic systems that can mimic biological systems. Despite these efforts, the mechanisms underlying vesicular trafficking of membrane proteins remain limited and robust in vitro methods that can construct synthetic trafficking systems for membrane proteins between large membranes (>1 μm2) are unavailable. Here, we provide data to show the spontaneous transfer of small membrane-bound peptides (∼4 kD) between a supported lipid bilayer (SLB) and giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs). We found that the contact between the SLB and GUVs led to the occasional but notable transfer of membrane-bound peptides in a physiological saline buffer condition (pH 7.4, 150 mM NaCl). Quantitative and dynamic time-lapse analyses suggested that the observed exchange occurred through the formation of hemi-fusion stalks between the SLB and GUVs. Larger protein cargos with a size of ∼77 kD could not be transferred between the SLB and GUVs, suggesting that the larger-sized cargos limited diffusion across the hemi-fusion stalk, which was predicted to have a highly curved structure. Compositional study showed Ni-chelated lipid head group was the essential component catalyzing the process. Our system serves as an example synthetic platform that enables the investigation of small-peptide trafficking between synthetic membranes and reveals hemi-fused lipid bridge formation as a mechanism of peptide transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number184256
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Fluorescence imaging
  • Giant unilamellar vesicle
  • Lipid membrane
  • Membrane fusion
  • Membrane reconstitution
  • Supported lipid bilayer
  • Vesicular trafficking


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