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The shapes of cell membranes are largely regulated by membrane-associated, curvature-active proteins. Herein, we use a numerical model of the membrane, recently developed by us, with elongated membrane inclusions possessing spontaneous directional curvatures that could be different along, and perpendicular to, the membrane's long axis. We show that, due to membrane-mediated interactions, these curvature-inducing membrane-nematogens can aggregate spontaneously, even at low concentrations, and change the local shape of the membrane. We demonstrate that for a large group of such inclusions, where the two spontaneous curvatures have equal sign, the tubular conformation and sometimes the sheet conformation of the membrane are the common equilibrium shapes. We elucidate the factors necessary for the formation of these protein lattices. Furthermore, the elastic properties of the tubes, such as their compressional stiffness and persistence length, are calculated. Finally, we discuss the possible role of nematic disclination in capping and branching of the tubular membranes. Copyright © 2013 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


N Ramakrishnan, P B Sunil Kumar, John H Ipsen. Membrane-mediated aggregation of curvature-inducing nematogens and membrane tubulation. Biophysical journal. 2013 Mar 05;104(5):1018-28

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PMID: 23473484

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