Photolipid Bilayer Permeability is Controlled by Transient Pore Formation

Stefanie D. Pritzl, Patrick Urban, Alexander Prasselsperger, David B. Konrad, James A. Frank, Dirk Trauner, Theobald Lohmüller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Controlling the release or uptake of (bio-) molecules and drugs from liposomes is critically important for a range of applications in bioengineering, synthetic biology, and drug delivery. In this paper, we report how the reversible photoswitching of synthetic lipid bilayer membranes made from azobenzene-containing phosphatidylcholine (azo-PC) molecules (photolipids) leads to increased membrane permeability. We show that cell-sized, giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) prepared from photolipids display leakage of fluorescent dyes after irradiation with UV-A and visible light. Langmuir-Blodgett and patch-clamp measurements show that the permeability is the result of transient pore formation. By comparing the trans-to-cis and cis-to-trans isomerization process, we find that this pore formation is the result of area fluctuations and a change of the area cross-section between both photolipid isomers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13509-13515
Number of pages7
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 17 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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