Encapsulation of active cytoskeletal protein networks in cell-sized liposomes
We demonstrate that cytoskeletal actin-myosin networks can be encapsulated with high efficiency in giant liposomes by hydration of lipids in an agarose hydrogel. The liposomes have cell-sized diameters of 10-20 μm and a uniform actin content. We show by measurements of membrane fluorescence intensity and bending rigidity that the majority of liposomes are unilamellar. We further demonstrate that the actin network can be specifically anchored to the membrane by biotin-streptavidin linkages. These protein-filled liposomes are useful model systems for quantitative studies of the physical mechanisms by which the cytoskeleton actively controls cell shape and mechanics. In a broader context, this new preparation method should be widely applicable to encapsulation of proteins and polymers, for instance, to create polymer-reinforced liposomes for drug delivery.