2018 Volume 41 Issue 3 Pages 303-311
Fluidity and mosaicity are two critical features of biomembranes, by which membrane proteins function through chemical and physical interactions within a bilayer. To understand this complex and dynamic system, artificial lipid bilayer membranes have served as unprecedented tools for experimental examination, in which some aspects of biomembrane features have been extracted, and to which various methodologies have been applied. Among the lipid bilayers involving liposomes, planar lipid bilayers and nanodiscs, recent developments of lipid bilayer methods and the results of our channel studies are reviewed herein. Principles and techniques of bilayer formation are summarized, which have been extended to the current techniques, where a bilayer is formed from lipid-coated water-in-oil droplets (water-in-oil bilayer). In our newly developed method, termed the contact bubble bilayer (CBB) method, a water bubble is blown from a pipette into a bulk oil phase, and monolayer-lined bubbles are docked to form a bilayer through manipulation by pipette. An asymmetric bilayer can be readily formed, and changes in composition in one leaflet were possible. Taking advantage of the topological configuration of the CBB, such that the membrane’s hydrophobic interior is contiguous with the surrounding bulk organic phase, oil-dissolved substances such as cholesterol were delivered directly to the bilayer interior to perfuse around the membrane-embedded channels (membrane perfusion), and current recordings in the single-channel allowed detection of immediate changes in the channels’ response to cholesterol. Chemical and mechanical manipulation in each monolayer (monolayer technology) allows the examination of dynamic channel-membrane interplay.