Differences in the domain forming properties of N-palmitoylated neutral glycosphingolipids in bilayer membranes

S Maunula, Jenny Isaksson, J Peter Slotte, B Ramstedt

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    We have compared the domain forming properties of three neutral acyl chain defined glycosphingolipids differing in their head group structures. The aim of the study was to explore if glycosphingolipids and sterols exist in the same lateral domains in bilayer membranes and how the structure of the head group influences the capacity of the glycosphingolipids to colocalize with cholesterol. The glycosphingolipids used in the study were galactosyl-, glucosyl- and lactosylceramides with a palmitic acid in the N-linked position. Domain formation in mixed bilayer vesicles was examined using fluorescent reporter molecules associating with ordered domains, together with a fluorescence quencher lipid in the disordered membrane phase. Our results show that the glycosphingolipids studied were poor in forming sterol-enriched domains compared to palmitoyl-sphingomyelin as detected by cholestatrienol quenching. However, the tendency to associate with cholesterol was clearly dependent on the carbohydrate structure of the glycosphingolipids, also when two glycosphingolipids with different head groups were mixed in the bilayer. All palmitoylated glycosphingolipids associated with palmitoyl-sphingomyelin/cholesterol domains. Our results show that the head group structures of neutral glycosphingolipids markedly affect their domain forming properties in bilayers both with and without cholesterol. The most striking observation being that large differences in domain forming properties were seen even between glucosylceramide and galactosylceramide, which differ only in the stereochemistry of one hydroxyl group in the carbohydrate head group.

    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)336–345
    JournalBBA - Biomembranes
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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