Electrostatic interactions across a charged lipid bilayer

Condensed Matter lunchtime seminar

Electrostatic interactions across a charged lipid bilayer

  • Event time: 1:00pm
  • Event date: 22nd October 2007
  • Speaker: Alexander Wagner (University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

I will present theoretical work in which the degree of electrostatic coupling across a charged lipid bilayer in aqueous solution is analyzed on the basis of nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann theory. In particular, we considered the electrostatic interaction of a single, large macroion with the two apposed leaflets of an oppositely charged lipid bilayer where the macroion is allowed to optimize its distance to the membrane. Three regimes are identified: a weak and a high macroion charge regime, separated by a regime of close macroion-membrane contact for intermediate charge densities. The corresponding free energies are used to estimate the degree of electrostatic coupling in a lamellar cationic lipid-DNA complex. That is, we calculate to what extent the one-dimensional DNA arrays in a sandwich-like lipoplex interact across the cationic membranes. We find that, in spite of the low dielectric constant inside a lipid membranes, there can be a significant electrostatic contribution to the experimentally observed cross-bilayer orientational ordering of the DNA arrays. The approximate analytical model is complemented and supported by numerical calculations of the electrostatic potentials and free energies of the lamellar lipoplex geometry. To this end, we solve the nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann equation within a unit cell of the lamellar lipoplex using a new lattice Boltzmann method.

This is a weekly series of informal talks given primarily by members of the soft condensed matter and statistical mechanics groups, but is also open to members of other groups and external visitors. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and learning of various topics at a level suitable to the broad background of the group. Everyone is welcome to attend..

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