Spontaneous Vesiculation and pH-Induced Disassembly of a Lysosomotropic Detergent: Impacts on Lysosomotropism and Lysosomal Delivery

Ana M. Villamil Giraldo, Timmy Fyrner, Stefan Wennmalm, Atul N. Parikh, Karin Öllinger, Thomas Ederth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Lysosomotropic detergents (LDs) selectively rupture lysosomal membranes through mechanisms that have yet to be characterized. A consensus view, currently, holds that LDs, which are weakly basic, diffuse across cellular membranes as monomers in an uncharged state, and via protonation in the acidic lysosomal compartment, they become trapped, accumulate, and subsequently solubilize the membrane and induce lysosomal membrane permeabilization. Here we demonstrate that the lysosomotropic detergent O-methyl-serine dodecylamide hydrochloride (MSDH) spontaneously assembles into vesicles at, and above, cytosolic pH, and that the vesicles disassemble as the pH reaches 6.4 or lower. The aggregation commences at concentrations below the range of those used in cell studies. Assembly and disassembly of the vesicles was studied via dynamic light scattering, zeta potential measurements, cryo-TEM, and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and was found to be reversible via control of the pH. Aggregation of MSDH into closed vesicles under cytosolic conditions is at variance with the commonly held view of LD behavior, and we propose that endocytotic pathways should be considered as possible routes of LD entry into lysosomes. We further demonstrate that MSDH vesicles can be loaded with fluorophores via a solution transition from low to high pH, for subsequent release when the pH is lowered again. The ability to encapsulate molecular cargo into MSDH vesicles together with its ability to disaggregate at low pH and to permeabilize the lysosomal membrane presents an intriguing possibility to use MSDH as a delivery system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13566-13575
Number of pages10
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 20 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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