ChEMS Seminar: Lipid Membrane Complexity as a Handle to Activate Cellular Delivery

McDonnell Douglas Engineering Auditorium (MDEA)
Cecilia Leal

Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Abstract: Lyotropic lipid liquid crystalline materials having nanostructures that deviate from the conventional flat bilayer arrangement, such as 2-D hexagonally packed lipid tubes and bicontinous cubic phases, have been increasingly recognized as relevant materials for the applications of gene and drug delivery as well as linked to the functionality of cellular organelles comprising lipid-membranes. The simple argument that non-bilayer phases such as bicontinous cubic having 3-D nanostructured intertwined channels have a higher surface-to-volume ratio enabling more point contacts with cell surfaces while having a larger encapsulation power to host drug/gene molecules might be insufficient to completely describe the experimental findings. In this work, we will show our recent efforts in stabilizing topologically rich lipid-based materials incorporating nucleic acids in bulk as well as thin film coatings. We utilize a combinatorial technical approach including small/wide transmission/grazing incidence X-ray scattering structural characterization and cell culture methods to demonstrate that a judicious choice of lipid materials allows an incredibly rich phase behavior in bulk, solution and thin film platforms. Furthermore, the systems can be tailored to be adaptive in response to a number of environmental cues. The general finding is that lipid-based materials comprising negative Gaussian curvature membranes are able to most efficiently deliver their cargo across cell membranes by lowering the energy cost of forming a membrane pore.

Bio: Cecília Leal is an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign since 2012. She graduated in industrial chemistry from Coimbra University in Portugal and received her doctorate in physical chemistry from Lund University, supervised by Professor Wennerström. After working for a year in the Norwegian Radium Hospital, she joined Professor Safinya’s Lab at UC Santa Barbara as a postdoctoral fellow. Her research interests focus on the characterization and functionalization of lipid materials for cellular delivery. She is the recipient of a number of distinctions including the National Science Foundation CAREER award and the NIH New Innovator award.

Host: Professor Alon Gorodetsky