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M.F.Schneider, D.Marsh, W.Jahn, B.Kloesgen, and T.Heimburg.1999. Reversible network formation of lipid membranes - triggering structural transitions by chain melting Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.USA 96: 14312-14317 abstract31

Abstract: Phospholipids when dispersed in excess water generally form vesicular membrane structures. Cryo-transmission and freeze-fracture electron microscopy are combined here with calorimetry and viscometry to demonstrate the reversible conversion of phosphatidylglycerol aqueous vesicle suspensions to a novel three-dimensional structure that consists of extended bilayer networks. Thermodynamic analysis indicates that the structural transitions arise from two effects: 1. the enhanced membrane elasticity accompanying the lipid state fluctuations on chain-melting, and 2. solvent-associated interactions (including electrostatics) that favor a change in membrane curvature. The material properties of the hydrogels and their reversible formation offer the possibility of future applications, for example in drug delivery, the design of structural switches, or for understanding vesicle fusion or fission processes.