Asymmetry of inner and outer leaflet lipid composition is an important characteristic of eukaryotic plasma membranes. We previously described a technique in which methyl-b-cyclodextrin-induced lipid exchange is used to prepare biological membrane-like asymmetric small unilamellar vesicles (SUVs). Here, to mimic plasma membranes more closely, we used a lipid-exchange-based method to prepare asymmetric large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs), which have less membrane curvature than SUVs. Asymmetric LUVs in which sphingomyelin (SM) or SM p 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-phosphatidylcholine was exchanged into the outer leaflet of vesicles composed of 1,2-dioleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE) and 1-palmitoyl-2- oleoyl-phosphatidylserine (POPS) were prepared with or without cholesterol. Approximately 80-100% replacement of outer leaflet DOPE and POPS was achieved. At room temperature, SM exchange into the outer leaflet increased the inner leaflet lipid order, suggesting significant interleaflet interaction. However, the SM-rich outer leaflet formed an ordered state, melting with a midpoint at ∼37°C. This was about the same value observed in pure SM vesicles, and was significantly higher than that observed in symmetric vesicles with the same SM content, which melted at ∼20°C. In other words, ordered state formation by outer-leaflet SM in asymmetric vesicles was not destabilized by an inner leaflet composed of DOPE and POPS. These properties suggest that the coupling between the physical states of the outer and inner leaflets in these asymmetric LUVs becomes very weak as the temperature approaches 37°C. Overall, the properties of asymmetric LUVs were very similar to those previously observed in asymmetric SUVs, indicating that they do not arise from the high membrane curvature of asymmetric SUVs. © 2011 by the Biophysical Society.
Cheng, H. T., & London, E. (2011). Preparation and properties of asymmetric large unilamellar vesicles: Interleaflet coupling in asymmetric vesicles is dependent on temperature but not curvature. Biophysical Journal, 100(11), 2671–2678. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2011.04.048