A range of membrane models have been developed to study components of cellular systems. Lipid vesicles or liposomes are one such artificial membrane model which mimics many properties of the biological system: they are lipid bilayers composed of one or more lipids to which other molecules can associate. Liposomes are thus ideal to study the roles of cellular lipids and their interactions with other membrane components to understand a wide range of cellular processes including membrane disruption, membrane transport and catalytic activity. Although liposomes are much simpler than cellular membranes, they are still challenging to study and a variety of complementary techniques are needed. In this review article, we consider several currently used analytical methods for spectroscopic measurements of unilamellar liposomes and their interaction with proteins and peptides. Among the variety of spectroscopic techniques seeing increasing application, we have chosen to discuss: fluorescence based techniques such as FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) and FRAP (fluorescence recovery after photobleaching), that are used to identify localisation and dynamics of molecules in the membrane; circular dichroism (CD) and linear dichroism (LD) for conformational and orientation changes of proteins on membrane binding; and SERS (Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy) as a rapidly developing ultrasensitive technique for site-selective molecular characterisation. The review contains brief theoretical basics of the listed techniques and recent examples of their successful applications for membrane studies.

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