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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 7275131, 11 pages
Research Article

Curvature-Induced Spatial Ordering of Composition in Lipid Membranes

Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, 32000 Haifa, Israel

Correspondence should be addressed to Sefi Givli

Received 30 January 2017; Accepted 22 March 2017; Published 4 April 2017

Academic Editor: John Mitchell

Copyright © 2017 Shimrit Katz and Sefi Givli. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Phase segregation of membranal components, such as proteins, lipids, and cholesterols, leads to the formation of aggregates or domains that are rich in specific constituents. This process is important in the interaction of the cell with its surroundings and in determining the cell’s behavior and fate. Motivated by published experiments on curvature-modulated phase separation in lipid membranes, we formulate a mathematical model aiming at studying the spatial ordering of composition in a two-component biomembrane that is subjected to a prescribed (imposed) geometry. Based on this model, we identified key nondimensional quantities that govern the biomembrane response and performed numerical simulations to quantitatively explore their influence. We reproduce published experimental observations and extend them to surfaces with geometric features (imposed geometry) and lipid phases beyond those used in the experiments. In addition, we demonstrate the possibility for curvature-modulated phase separation above the critical temperature and propose a systematic procedure to determine which mechanism, the difference in bending stiffness or difference in spontaneous curvatures of the two phases, dominates the coupling between shape and composition.