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Giant liposomes are fantastic tools for bottom-up synthetic biology. They can be manipulated using glass micropipettes and it is possible to create very thin nanotubes (up to 12nm in diameter) by pulling on the membrane.

Protein binding to

negative curvature

Protein binding to

positive curvature

The membrane nanotube can display very sharp curvatures, both positive (on the outside) and negative (on the inside).


In cells there are proteins that recognize and specifically bind to curved membranes. Such protein can be studied using this tube-pulling technique.

Credits: Nicola De Franceschi

De Franceschi, JCS 2018

De Franceschi, Bio-protocols 2019

By combining giant liposome fusion with tube pulling, we could reconstitute and study the assembly of challenging proteins (such as ESCRT-III proteins) on the inside of a nanotube (work done in Patricia Bassereu's Lab).

Bertin & De Franceschi, Nature Comm. 2020

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