Aqueous Phase Separation in Giant Vesicles

We report the synthesis and initial characterization of ∼10 μm diameter lipid vesicles that contain two distinct aqueous phases. The aqueous two-phase system is a dextran/poly(ethylene glycol) solution that exhibits temperature-dependent phase behavior. Vesicles were prepared above the phase transition temperature of the polymer solution. Upon cooling to room temperature, the polymer solution phase separated both within the vesicles and in the bulk solution. The location of poly(ethylene glycol)-rich and dextran-rich phases was determined by fluorescence microscopy. These structures are exciting in that they enable for the first time the interior volume of liposomes to be structured.