Professors Tadej Kotnik and Damijan Miklavčič, together with Dr. Lea Rems from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden) and Professor Mounir Tarek from the University of Lorraine (France), have published a review article in the highly ranked journal Annual Reviev of Biophysics (JCR IF 2017 = 11.742) on our current knowledge of the mechanisms and models of cell membrane electropermeabilization. In recent years, large steps were made in the understanding of events underlying the increased permeability of membranes exposed to sufficiently strong electric pulses. Formation of aqueous pores in the lipid bilayer is now a widely recognized mechanism, but evidence is growing that chemical modifications of membrane lipids and functional modulation of membrane proteins also contribute to the increased permeability, and particularly to the slower recovery of the membrane to its much lower physiological level of permeability. This substantiates the need for terminological distinction between the narrower phenomenon of electroporation and the broader set of mechanisms constituting electropermeabilization. In the review, the authors first revisit experimental evidence for electrically induced membrane permeability, its correlation with transmembrane voltage, and continuum models of electropermeabilization that disregard the molecular-level structure and events. They then present additional insights from molecular-level modeling, particularly atomistic simulations that enhance understanding of pore formation, and evidence of chemical changes in membrane lipids and functional alterations of membrane proteins that both affect membrane permeability. Finally, they discuss the remaining challenges to our full understanding of electroporation and electropermeabilization.
The article is available here.