iGUVs: Preparing Giant Unilamellar Vesicles with a Smartphone and Lipids Easily Extracted from Chicken Eggs

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Since the first report of electroformed micrometersized liposomes in the 1980s, giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) have generated a lot of interest in the biophysical and biochemical communities. However, their penetration rate in high school or at the undergraduate level is still limited because of the requirement of specialized materials for their fabrication. The main objective of this article is to translate the manufacture of these interesting microsystems from highly specialized research laboratories to general chemistry or biology laboratories with the help of everyday objects. Vesicles are made of lipids, which can easily be extracted from chicken eggs. Once obtained, the lipids can be reassembled to form giant vesicular structures in a sugar/ aqueous medium by using a do-it-yourself electroformation device. For that, the homemade electroformation chamber is plugged into the audio output of a smartphone or a tablet, which generates audio signals with variable amplitude and frequency. These GUVs prepared with a smart device (iGUVs) are then resuspended into a salt solution for their visualization under a simple microscope. iGUVs bring the opportunity to teachers to stimulate scientific discussion from a wide variety of scientific disciplines such as colloidal chemistry, biophysical chemistry, statistics and cell biology.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (ERC grant agreement n° 338133)
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