Optically trapped plasmonic nano-heaters are used to mediate efficient and controlled fusion of biological membranes. The fusion method is demonstrated by optically trapping plasmonic nanoparticles located in between vesicle membranes leading to rapid lipid and content mixing. As an interesting application we show how direct control over fusion can be used for studying diffusion of peripheral membrane proteins and their interactions with membranes and for studying protein reactions. Membrane proteins encapsulated in an inert vesicle can be transferred to a vesicle composed of negative lipids by optically induced fusion. Mixing of the two membranes results in a fused vesicle with a high affinity for the protein and we observe immediate membrane tubulation due to the activity of the protein. Fusion of distinct membrane compartments also has applications in small scale chemistry for realizing pico-liter reactions and offers many exciting applications within biology which are discussed here.
Azra Bahadori, Andreas R. Lund, Szabolcs Semsey, Lene B. Oddershede, and Poul M. Bendix, "Controlled cellular fusion using optically trapped plasmonic nano-heaters," Proc. SPIE 9922, Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation XIII, 992211 (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 30, 2016; Published: 16 September 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2237848.
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