These are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. They should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information. For more information, please see our FAQs.
2 files

Amphiphilic Ionic Liquid Induced Fusion of Phospholipid Liposomes

submitted on 03.08.2020, 06:55 and posted on 04.08.2020, 13:26 by Sandeep Kumar, Navleen Kaur, Venus Singh Mithu
Membrane fusion is a key biological phenomenon with potential applications in biotechnology. In this work, we provide biophysical and structural evidence that liposomes composed of POPC/POPG phospholipids undergo fusion in the presence of ionic liquids containing 1-alkyl-3-methyl-imidazolium cations. The fusion phenomenon is confirmed using dynamic light scattering based size measurements, and Fluorescence based dye leakage and lipid mixing assays. 1H-1H NOESY measurements using solid-state NMR spectroscopy were performed to obtain insights into fusion mechanism. It is found that ionic liquid induced splaying of phospholipid chains is crucial for overcoming the hydration barrier between the merging bilayers. Also, transiently lived fusion-holes are formed at the initial stages of bilayer mixing resulting in a leaky fusion phenomenon.

Although considered as “green” alternatives to conventional solvents, ionic liquids can exhibit cytotoxicity by altering the structural integrity of cellular membrane. Our study provides mechanistic details of the evolution of phospholipid membrane structure resulting in membrane fusion when subjected to increasing ionic liquid concentrations. We believe that findings of this study will further our understanding of ionic liquids induced cytotoxicity and non-protein assisted membrane fusion.


Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India (BT/PR22289/BRB/10/1566/2016)

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for research stay grant (ID: 57314018)

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India, for Senior Research Fellowship (SRF) no. 09/254(0267)/2017- EMR-I

University Grant Commission (UGC), India, for Senior Research Fellowship (SRF) no. 105743


Email Address of Submitting Author


Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests.