Contact Bubble Bilayers with Flush Drainage

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Planar lipid bilayers have been used to form stable bilayers into which membrane proteins are reconstituted for measurements of their function under an applied membrane potential. Recently, a lipid bilayer membrane is formed by the apposition of two monolayers that line an oil-electrolyte interface. Here, a bilayer membrane system is developed with picoliter bubbles under mechanically and chemically manipulable conditions. A water bubble lined with a phospholipid monolayer is blown from a glass pipette into an oil phase. Two blowing pipettes are manipulated, and bubbles (each with a diameter of ~ 50 μm) are held side by side to form a bilayer, which is termed a contact bubble bilayer. With the electrode implemented in the blowing pipette, currents through the bilayer are readily measured. The intra-bubble pressure is varied with the pressure-controller, leading to various sizes of the bubble and the membrane area. A rapid solution exchange system is developed by introducing additional pressure-driven injection pipettes, and the blowing pipette works as a drain. The solution is exchanged within 20 ms. Also, an asymmetric membrane with different lipid composition of each leaflet is readily formed. Example applications of this versatile method are presented to characterize the function of ion channels.


  • Scientific Reports

    Scientific Reports (5), 9110-9110, 2015-03-16

    Nature Publishing Group


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