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Gaussian Curvature Directs The Distribution Of Spontaneous Curvature On Bilayer Membrane Necks

By Morgan Chabanon, Padmini Rangamani

Posted 12 May 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/137091 (published DOI: 10.1039/c8sm00035b)

Formation of membrane necks is crucial for fission and fusion in lipid bilayers. In this work, we seek to answer the following fundamental question: what is the relationship between protein-induced spontaneous mean curvature and the Gaussian curvature at a membrane neck? Using an augmented Helfrich model for lipid bilayers to include membrane-protein interaction, we solve the shape equation on catenoids to find the field of spontaneous curvature that satisfies mechanical equilibrium of membrane necks. In this case, the shape equation reduces to a variable coefficient Helmholtz equation for spontaneous curvature, where the source term is proportional to the Gaussian curvature. We show how this latter quantity is responsible for non-uniform distribution of spontaneous curvature in minimal surfaces. We then explore the energetics of catenoids with different spontaneous curvature boundary conditions and geometric asymmetries to show how heterogeneities in spontaneous curvature distribution can couple with Gaussian curvature to result in membrane necks of different geometries.

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