Coarse-Grained Computer Simulations of Multicomponent Lipid Membranes


Based on indirect observations, there currently exists a consensus that the plasma membrane of mammalian cells exhibits nontrivial lateral heterogeneities in the form of nanoscale lipid domains known as lipid rafts which are rich in cholesterol and sphingolipids. Lipid rafts have been implicated in a range of biological functions, including signal transduction, endocytosis, trafficking, virus uptake, and regulation of the membrane tension. The elucidation of the finite size of lipid rafts in the plasma membrane has been a challenging problem since multicomponent lipid vesicles composed of saturated lipid, an unsaturated lipid, and cholesterol also exhibit domains, but these are much larger than the lipid rafts in the plasma membrane. Many computational studies have recently been performed to address the phase separation in multicomponent membranes and potential mechanisms leading to nanoscale phase separation in the plasma membrane. This chapter provides an overview of major computational studies of multicomponent lipid membranes with a particular focus on time-dependent Ginzburg-Landau models, dynamic triangulation Monte Carlo models, coarse-grained molecular dynamics, and dissipative particle dynamics. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Publication Title

Advances in Planar Lipid Bilayers and Liposomes