A mathematic–physical model of the interaction between cell membrane bilayer leaflets is proposed based on the Casimir effect in dielectrics. This model explains why the layers of a lipid membrane gently slide one past another rather than penetrate each other. The presented model reveals the dependence of variations in the free energy of the system on the membrane thickness. This function is characterized by the two close minima corresponding to the different levels of interdigitation of the lipids from neighbor layers. The energy barrier of the compressing transition between the predicted minima is estimated to be 5.7 kT/lipid, and the return energy is estimated to be 3.1 kT/lipid. The proposed model enables estimation of the value of the membrane elastic thickness modulus of compressibility, which is 1.7 × 109 N/m2, and the value of the interlayer friction coefficient, which is 1.9 × 108 Ns/m3.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 24, 2013
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