In this study, we used cholestatrienol (CTL) as a fluorescent reporter molecule to study sterol-rich Lo domains in complex lipid bilayers. CTL is a fluorescent cholesterol analog that mimics the behavior of cholesterol well. The ability of 12SLPC to quench the fluorescence of cholestatrienol gives a measure of the amount of sterol included in Lo domains in mixed lipid membranes. The stability of sterol-rich domains formed in complex lipid mixtures containing saturated sphingomyelins, phosphatidylcholines, or galactosylceramide as potential domain-forming lipids were studied. The amount of sterol associated with sterol-rich domains seemed to always increase with increasing temperature. The quenching efficiency was highly dependent on the domain-forming lipid present in complex lipid mixtures. Sphingomyelins formed stable sterol-enriched domains and were able to shield CTL from quenching better than the other lipids included in this study. The saturated phosphatidylcholines also formed sterol-rich domains, but the quenching efficiency in membranes with these was higher than with sphingomyelins and the domains melted at lower temperatures. PGalCer was not able to form sterol-enriched domains. However, we found that PGalCer stabilized sterol-rich domains formed in PSM-containing bilayers. Using a fluorescent ceramide analog, we also demonstrated that N-palmitoyl-ceramide displaced the sterol from sphingolipid-rich domains in mixed bilayer membranes.
- model membrane