Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2019

13. Giant vesicles: A biomimetic tool for assessing membrane material properties and interactions

Jan Steinkühler and Rumiana Dimova


Giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) have sizes in the range of 10-100 μm, which defines their unique property: they are visible under a light microscope. GUVs provide a handy biomimetic tool for directly displaying the response of the membrane on the cellsize scale. They represent model biomembrane systems for systematic measurements of mechanical and rheological properties of lipid bilayers as a function of membrane composition and phase state, surrounding media, and temperature. Here, we first summarize methods for preparing GUVs and their observation. Then, we introduce different experimental techniques which can yield precise values of membrane material characteristics such as mechanical properties (bending rigidity, stretching elasticity, lysis tension, and spontaneous curvature) and rheology (fluidity and viscosity of the membrane). Design, setup, practical tips, and evaluation of such experiments are discussed. An example on vesicle immobilization facilitating such measurements is also introduced.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
Scroll Up Arrow