What Is The Lipidic Cubic Phase?

The Lipidic Cubic Phase is one of several liquid crystalline phases which form spontaneously whenever lipids are mixed with water under correct conditions. The Lipidic Cubic Phase structure consists of one lipid bilayer which follows an infinite periodic minimal surface or, IPMS, which separates the space into two non-intersecting networks of water channels.

There are 3 main kinds of discontinuous Lipid Cubic Phases which all have a different space group symmetry. All three parts of the Lipidic Cubic Phase have unique properties which make them very useful for a number of applications.

Crystallization Of Membrane Proteins

Crystallisation of membrane proteins during the Lipidic Cubic Phase was a process which was first brought to light in 1996, by landau and Rosenbusch. The process has proven invaluable in elucidating structural mechanisms of action in various microbial Rhodopsins. It was also responsible for providing the first high resolution details of the human G protein – coupled receptors which are bound to diffusible ligands. 

The Success Of Lipidic Cubic Phase

There is no doubt that Lipidic Cubic Phase represented a breakthrough in techniques for a great deal of things. Its success in growing highly ordered crystals of human membrane proteins has been a huge boost to the scientific community, allowing them to carry out much more accurate research in the field.

The success of Lipidic Cubic Phase in these areas can be put down to two factors. Firstly. Lipidic Cubic Phase provides a much more realistic and native like membrane for proteins, unlike detergent milicelles which offer a very harsh environment for cells.

Also, crystals which have been grown in the Lipidic Cubic Phase have type I packing with protein molecules. This makes contacts through both hydrophilic and hydrophobic portions possible, which results in a much lower solvent content and this makes for much better crystal ordering.

What Is The Lipidic Cubic Phase Used For?

The Lipidic Cubic Phase is useful in many areas of research and for several applications. Some of the things it is used for include  drug delivery, sustained release, chemical synthesis and protein crystalisation, so it is easy to see just how important it is on a wide scale.