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Recent experiments have shown that certain molecular agents can selectively penetrate and aggregate in bacterial lipid membranes, leading to their permeability and rupture. To help reveal and understand the underlying mechanisms, here we establish a theory to show that the deformation energy of the membrane tends to limit the growth of molecular domains on a lipid membrane, resulting in a characteristic domain size, and that the domain aggregation significantly reduces the energy barrier to pore growth. Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations are performed to validate such domain aggregation and associated pore formation. This study sheds light on how lipid membranes can be damaged through molecular domain aggregation and contributes to establish a theoretical foundation for the next-generation membrane-targeting nanomedicine.


Yue Liu, Guijin Zou, Huajian Gao. Domain Aggregation and Associated Pore Growth in Lipid Membranes. ACS nano. 2021 Jan 26;15(1):604-613

PMID: 33405893

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