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Xiao, Qi; Wang, Zhichun; Williams, Dewight; Leowanawat, Pawaret; Peterca, Mihai; Sherman, Samuel E.; Zhang, Shaodong; Hammer, Daniel A.; Heiney, Paul A.; King, Steven R.; Markovitz, David M.; André, Sabine; Gabius, Hans-Joachim; Klein, Michael L.; Percec, Virgil (2016): Why Do Membranes of Some Unhealthy Cells Adopt a Cubic Architecture? In: ACS Central Science, Vol. 2, No. 12: pp. 943-953


Nonlamellar lipid arrangements, including cubosomes, appear in unhealthy cells, e.g., when they are subject to stress, starvation, or viral infection. The bioactivity of cubosomes-nanoscale particles exhibiting bicontinuous cubic structures-versus more common vesicles is an unexplored area due to lack of suitable model systems. Here, glycodendrimercubosomes (GDCs)-sugar-presenting cubosomes assembled from Janus glycodendrimers by simple injection into buffer-are proposed as mimics of biological cubic membranes. The bicontinuous cubic GDC architecture has been demonstrated by electron tomography. The stability of these GDCs in buffer enabled studies on lectin-dependent agglutination, revealing significant differences compared with the vesicular glycodendrimersome (GDS) counterpart. In particular, GDCs showed an increased activity toward concanavalin A, as well as an increased sensitivity and selectivity toward two variants of banana lectins, a wild-type and a genetically modified variant, which is not exhibited by GDSs. These results suggest that cells may adapt under unhealthy conditions by undergoing a transformation from lamellar to cubic membranes as a method of defense.