Miscibility of Sphingomyelins and Phosphatidylcholines in Unsaturated Phosphatidylcholine Bilayers

Anders Kullberg, Oscar Ekholm, J Peter Slotte

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    Polyunsaturated phospholipids are common in biological membranes and affect the lateral structure of bilayers. We have examined how saturated sphingomyelin (SM; palmitoyl and stearoyl SM (PSM and SSM, respectively)) and phosphatidylcholine (PC; dipalmitoyl PC and 1-palmitoyl-2-stearoyl PC (DPPC and PSPC, respectively)) segregate laterally to form ordered gel phases in increasingly unsaturated PC bilayers (sn-1: 16:0 and sn-2: 18:1...22:6; or sn-1 and sn-2: 18:1…22:6). The formation of gel phases was determined from the lifetime analysis of trans-parinaric acid. Using calorimetry, we also determined gel phase formation by PSM and DPPC in unsaturated PC mixed bilayers. Comparing PSM with DPPC, we observed that PSM formed a gel phase with less order than DPPC at comparable bilayer concentrations. The same was true when SSM was compared with PSPC. Furthermore, we observed that at equal saturated phospholipid concentration, the gel phases formed were less ordered in unsaturated PCs having 16:0 in sn-1, as compared to PCs having unsaturated acyl chains in both sn-1 and sn-2. The gel phases formed by the saturated phospholipids in unsaturated PC bilayers did not appear to achieve properties similar to pure saturated phospholipid bilayers, suggesting that complete lateral phase separation did not occur. Based on scanning calorimetry analysis, the melting of the gel phases formed by PSM and DPPC in unsaturated PC mixed bilayers (at 45 mol % saturated phospholipid) had low cooperativity and hence most likely were of mixed composition, in good agreement with trans-parinaric acid lifetime data. We conclude that both interfacial properties of the saturated phospholipids and their chain length, as well as the presence of 16:0 in sn-1 of the unsaturated PCs and the total number of cis unsaturations and acyl chain length (18 to 22) of the unsaturated PCs, all affected the formation of gel phases enriched in saturated phospholipids, under the conditions used.

    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)1907–1916
    JournalBiophysical Journal
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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