HYPOTHESIS: Quatsome nanovesicles, formed through the self-assembly of cholesterol (CHOL) and cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) in water, have shown long-term stability in terms of size and morphology, while at the same time exhibiting high CHOL-CTAB intermolecular binding energies. We hypothesize that CHOL/CTAB quatsomes are indeed thermodynamically stable nanovesicles, and investigate the mechanism underlying their formation.
EXPERIMENTS: A systematic study was performed to determine whether CHOL/CTAB quatsomes satisfy the experimental requisites of thermodynamically stable vesicles. Coarse-grain molecular dynamics simulations were used to investigate the molecular organization in the vesicle membrane, and the characteristics of the simulated vesicle were corroborated with experimental data obtained by cryo-electron microscopy, small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering, and multi-angle static light scattering.
FINDINGS: CHOL/CTAB quatsomes fulfill the requisites of thermodynamically stable nanovesicles, but they do not exhibit the classical membrane curvature induced by a composition asymmetry between the bilayer leaflets, like catanionic nanovesicles. Instead, CHOL/CTAB quatsomes are formed through the association of intrinsically planar bilayers in a faceted vesicle with defects, indicating that distortions in the organization and orientation of molecules can play a major role in the formation of thermodynamically stable nanovesicles.
- Cetrimonium Compounds/chemistry
- Cryoelectron Microscopy
- Lipid Bilayers/chemistry
- Molecular Dynamics Simulation
- Vesicle stability
- Composition asymmetry
- Molecular self-assembly