During vesicle budding or endocytosis, biomembranes undergo a series of lipid- and protein-mediated deformations involving cholesterol-enriched lipid rafts. If lipid rafts of high bending rigidities become confined to the incipient curved membrane topology such as a bud-neck interface, they can be expected to reform as ring-shaped rafts. Here, we report on the observation of a disk-to-ring shape morpho-chemical transition of a model membrane in the absence of geometric constraints. The raft shape transition is triggered by lateral compositional heterogeneity and is accompanied by membrane deformation in the vertical direction, which is detected by height-sensitive fluorescence interference contrast microscopy. Our results suggest that a flat membrane can become curved simply by dynamic changes in local chemical composition and shape transformation of cholesterol-rich domains.
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© 2015 American Chemical Society.