We study the role of a biomimetic actin network during the application of electric pulses that induce electroporation or electropermeabilization, using giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) as a model system. The actin cortex, a subjacently attached interconnected network of actin filaments, regulates the shape and mechanical properties of the plasma membrane of mammalian cells, and is a major factor influencing the mechanical response of the cell to external physical cues. We demonstrate that the presence of an actin shell inhibits the formation of macropores in the electroporated GUVs. Additionally, experiments on the uptake of dye molecules after electroporation show that the actin network slows down the resealing process of the permeabilized membrane. We further analyze the stability of the actin network inside the GUVs exposed to high electric pulses. We find disruption of the actin layer that is likely due to the electrophoretic forces acting on the actin filaments during the permeabilization of the GUVs. Our findings on the GUVs containing a biomimetic network provide a step towards understanding the discrepancies between the electroporation mechanism of a living cell and its simplified model of the empty GUV.

Springer Science and Business Media LLC
European Research Council (ERC)
Sci. Rep.
Biological Soft Matter-Former Group

Perrier, D., Vahid, A., Kathavi, V., Stam, L., Rems, L., Mulla, Y., … Boukany, P. (2019). Response of an actin network in vesicles under electric pulses. Sci. Rep., 9, 8151: 1–11. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44613-5