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Giant plasma membrane vesicles (GPMVs) are a widely used experimental platform for biochemical and biophysical analysis of isolated mammalian plasma membranes (PMs). A core advantage of these vesicles is that they maintain the native lipid and protein diversity of the PM while affording the experimental flexibility of synthetic giant vesicles. In addition to fundamental investigations of PM structure and composition, GPMVs have been used to evaluate the binding of proteins and small molecules to cell-derived membranes and the permeation of drug-like molecules through them. An important assumption of such experiments is that GPMVs are sealed, i.e., that permeation occurs by diffusion through the hydrophobic core rather than through hydrophilic pores. Here, we demonstrate that this assumption is often incorrect. We find that most GPMVs isolated using standard preparations are passively permeable to various hydrophilic solutes as large as 40 kDa, in contrast to synthetic giant unilamellar vesicles. We attribute this leakiness to stable, relatively large, and heterogeneous pores formed by rupture of vesicles from cells. Finally, we identify preparation conditions that minimize poration and allow evaluation of sealed GPMVs. These unexpected observations of GPMV poration are important for interpreting experiments utilizing GPMVs as PM models, particularly for drug permeation and membrane asymmetry.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Biophysical journal
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Membrane-limited structures derived from the plasma membrane or various intracellular membranes which function in storage, transport or metabolism.
Specialized regions of the cell membrane composed of pits coated with a bristle covering made of the protein CLATHRIN. These pits are the entry route for macromolecules bound by cell surface receptors. The pits are then internalized into the cytoplasm to form the COATED VESICLES.
Vesicles formed when cell-membrane coated pits (COATED PITS, CELL-MEMBRANE) invaginate and pinch off. The outer surface of these vesicles is covered with a lattice-like network of the protein CLATHRIN. Shortly after formation, however, the clathrin coat is removed and the vesicles are referred to as ENDOSOMES.
Vesicles secreted from MULTIVESICULAR BODIES into the extracellular environment when the multivesicular bodies fuse with the PLASMA MEMBRANE. Multivesicular bodies are formed from ENDOSOMES when they accumulate vesicles (sometimes referred to as "intraluminal vesicles") from inward budding of the endosome membrane.
Cytoplasmic vesicles formed when COATED VESICLES shed their CLATHRIN coat. Endosomes internalize macromolecules bound by receptors on the cell surface.
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