Lateral heterogeneities in biomembranes play a crucial role in various physiological functions of the cell. Such heterogeneities lead to demixing of lipid constituents and formation of distinct liquid domains in the membrane. We study lateral heterogeneities in terms of topological rearrangements of lipids to identify the liquid-liquid phase coexistence in model membranes. Using ideas from the physics of amorphous systems and glasses, we calculate the degree of nonaffine deformation associated with individual lipids to characterize the liquid-ordered (Lo) and liquid-disordered (Ld) regions in model lipid bilayers. We explore the usage of this method on all-atom and coarse-grained lipid bilayer trajectories. This method is helpful in defining the instantaneous Lo−Ld domain boundaries in complex multicomponent bilayer systems. The characterization is also used to highlight the effect of line-active molecules on the phase boundaries and domain mixing. Overall, we propose a framework to explore the molecular origin of spatial and dynamical heterogeneity in biomembrane systems, which can be exploited not only in computer simulations but also in experiments.
Iyer, S. S., Tripathy, M., & Srivastava, A. (2018). Fluid Phase Coexistence in Biological Membrane: Insights from Local Nonaffine Deformation of Lipids. Biophysical Journal, 115(1), 117–128. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2018.05.021