The Nanomechanics of Lipid Multibilayer Stacks Exhibits Complex Dynamics

Josep Relat-Goberna, Amy E.M. Beedle, Sergi Garcia-Manyes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
188 Downloads (Pure)


The nanomechanics of lipid membranes regulates a large number of cellular functions. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the plastic rupture of individual bilayers remain elusive. This study uses force clamp spectroscopy to capture the force-dependent dynamics of membrane failure on a model diphytanoylphosphatidylcholine multilayer stack, which is devoid of surface effects. The obtained kinetic measurements demonstrate that the rupture of an individual lipid bilayer, occurring in the bilayer parallel plane, is a stochastic process that follows a log-normal distribution, compatible with a pore formation mechanism. Furthermore, the vertical individual force-clamp trajectories, occurring in the bilayer orthogonal bilayer plane, reveal that rupturing process occurs through distinct intermediate mechanical transition states that can be ascribed to the fine chemical composition of the hydrated phospholipid moiety. Altogether, these results provide a first description of unanticipated complexity in the energy landscape governing the mechanically induced bilayer rupture process.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2017


  • Atomic force microscope
  • Force clamp spectroscopy
  • Lipid bilayers
  • Nanomechanics


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