Using a simple microscopic model of lipid-protein interactions, based on the hydrophobic matching principle, we study some generic aspects of lipid-membrane compartmentalization controlled by a dispersion of active integral membrane proteins. The activity of the proteins is simulated by conformational excitations governed by an external drive, and the deexcitation is controlled by interaction of the protein with its lipid surroundings. In response to the flux of energy into the proteins from the environment and the subsequent dissipation of energy into the lipid bilayer, the lipid-protein assembly reorganizes into a steady-state structure with a typical length scale determined by the strength of the external drive. In the specific case of a mixed dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine-distearoylphosphatidylcholine bilayer in the gel-fluid coexistence region, it is shown explicitly by computer simulation that the activity of an integral membrane protein can lead to a compartmentalization of the lipid-bilayer membrane. The compartmentalization is related to the dynamical process of phase separation and lipid domain formation.
|Publication status||Published - 1998|