Giant Vesicles from Sophorolipids

Giant Vesicles from Sophorolipids

Author: Sarah Millar

Vesicles—supramolecular assemblies of lipid molecules—have been implicated in many fundamental biological processes, including cell metabolism, transport, and enzyme storage. Understanding the mechanism of vesicle self-assembly could reveal details about the origins of life owing to the resemblance between the membrane enclosing the vesicle to that of cell walls.

Sudip Roy, B. L. V. Prasad, and colleagues, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India, have studied the formation of vesicles from sophorolipids (SLs), a class of glycolipids where a dimeric glucose—sophorose—and a carboxylic acid are attached to either end of a hydrophobic alkane chain. The team found that the number of double bonds present in the hydrophobic core of SLs has a great influence on the type of self-assembled structures formed. Sophorolipids of linoenic acids (LNSL) formed vesicles, whereas those of oleic acid formed ribbon-like self-assemblies, and those of linoleic acid did not form any discernable structures.
For the vesicles, dye encapsulation studies established the presence of an aqueous compartment inside the LNSL vesicles. Molecular dynamics simulation (MD) studies suggest the existence of two possible conformations of LNSLs inside the self-assembled structures and that the cell walls of these vesicles consist of a double bilayer wherein the molecules are predominantly arranged in a tail–head–head–tail manner in each bilayer.

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