Glyco-acrylate copolymers for bilayer tethering on benzophenone-modified substrates.
Model biological membranes are becoming increasingly important for studying fundamental biophysical phenomena and developing membrane-based devices. To address the anticipated problem of non-physiological interactions between membrane proteins and substrates seen in “solid-supported lipid bilayers” that are formed directly on hydrophilic substrates, we have developed a polymer-tethered lipid bilayer system based on a random copolymer with multiple lipid analogue anchors and a glyco-acrylate backbone. This system is targeted at applications that, most importantly, require stability and robustness since each copolymer has multiple lipid analogues that insert into the bilayer. We have combined this copolymer with a flexible photochemical coupling scheme that covalently attaches the copolymer to the substrate. The Langmuir isotherms of mixed copolymer/free lipid monolayers measured at the air–water interface indicate that the alkyl chains of the copolymer lipid analogues and the free lipids dominate the film behavior. In addition, no significant phase transitions are seen in the isotherms, while hysteresis experiments confirm that no irreversible states are formed during the monolayer compression. Isobaric creep experiments at the air–water interface and AFM experiments of the transferred monolayer are used to guide processing parameters for creating a fluid, homogeneous bilayer. Bilayer homogeneity and fluidity are monitored using fluorescence microscopy. Continuous bilayers with lateral diffusion coefficients of 0.6 m2/s for both leaflets of the bilayer are observed for a 5% copolymer system.