Giant unilamellar vesicles or GUVs are systems of choice as biomimetic models of cellular membranes. Although a variety of procedures exist for making single walled vesicles of tens of microns in size, the range of lipid compositions that can be used to grow GUVs by the conventional methods is quite limited, and many of the available methods involve energy input that can damage the lipids or other molecules present in the growing solution for embedment in the membrane or in the vesicle interior. Here, we show that a wide variety of lipids or lipid mixtures can grow into GUVs by swelling lipid precursor films on top of a dried polyvinyl alcohol gel surface in a swelling buffer that can contain diverse biorelevant molecules. Moreover, we show that the encapsulation potential of this method can be enhanced by combining polyvinyl alcohol-mediated growth with inverse-phase methods, which allow (bio)molecule complexation with the lipids.

Elsevier/ Cell Press
Biophys. J.
Biological Soft Matter-Former Group

Weinberger, A., Tsai, F.-C., Koenderink, G., Schmidt, T. F., Itri, R., Meier, W., … Marques, C. M. (2013). Gel-assisted formation of giant unilamellar vesicles. Biophys. J., 105(1), 154–164. doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2013.05.024