A lipid bound actin meshwork organizes liquid phase separation in model membranes.
Honigmann A., Sadeghi S., Keller J., Hell SW., Eggeling C., Vink R.
The eukaryotic cell membrane is connected to a dense actin rich cortex. We present FCS and STED experiments showing that dense membrane bound actin networks have severe influence on lipid phase separation. A minimal actin cortex was bound to a supported lipid bilayer via biotinylated lipid streptavidin complexes (pinning sites). In general, actin binding to ternary membranes prevented macroscopic liquid-ordered and liquid-disordered domain formation, even at low temperature. Instead, depending on the type of pinning lipid, an actin correlated multi-domain pattern was observed. FCS measurements revealed hindered diffusion of lipids in the presence of an actin network. To explain our experimental findings, a new simulation model is proposed, in which the membrane composition, the membrane curvature, and the actin pinning sites are all coupled. Our results reveal a mechanism how cells may prevent macroscopic demixing of their membrane components, while at the same time regulate the local membrane composition. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01671.001.