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C. Russ, T. Heimburg, and H. H. von Grünberg. 2003. The effect of lipid demixing on the electrostatic interaction of planar membranes across a salt solution. Biophys. J. 84: 3730-3742 abstract43

ABSTRACT We study the effect of lipid demixing on the electrostatic interaction of two oppositely-charged membranes in solution, modeled here as an incompressible two-dimensional fluid mixture of neutral and charged mobile lipids. We calculate, within linear and nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann theory, the membrane separation at which the net electrostatic force between the membranes vanishes, for a variety of different system parameters. According to Parsegian and Gingell, contact between  oppositely-charged surfaces in an electrolyte is possible only if the two surfaces have exactly the same charge density (). If this condition is not fulfilled, the surfaces can repel each other, even though they are oppositely charged. In our model of a membrane, the lipidic charge distribution on the membrane surface is not homogeneous and frozen, but the lipids are allowed to freely move within the plane of the membrane. We show that lipid demixing allows contact between membranes even if there is a certain charge mismatch, , and that in certain limiting cases, contact is always possible, regardless of the value of   (if ). We furthermore found that of the two interacting membranes, only one membrane shows a major rearrangement of lipids, whereas the other remains in exactly the same state it has in isolation and that, at zero-disjoining pressure, the electrostatic mean-field potential between the membranes follows a Gouy-Chapman potential from the more strongly charged membrane up to the point of the other, more weakly charged membrane.