The Affinity of Sterols for Different Phospholipid Classes and Its Impact on Lateral Segregation

Thomas Nyholm, S Jaikishan, Oskar Engberg, Victor Hautala, J Peter Slotte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Cholesterol is an essential molecule in the membranes of mammalian cells. It is known to be distributed heterogeneously within the cells, between the bilayer leaflets, as well as between lateral domains within the bilayer. However, we do not know exactly how cholesterol is distributed and what forces drive this sorting process because it extremely difficult to study using currently available methods. To further elucidate this distribution, we measured how cholesterol partitions between different phospholipid (PL) environments using different methods based on cholesterol, TopFluor-cholesterol, and cholesta-5,7,9(11)-triene-3-β-ol. Based on the obtained relative partition coefficients, we made predictions regarding how cholesterol would be distributed between lateral domains and between the inner and outer leaflets of the plasma membrane. In addition, using a trans-parinaric acid fluorescence-based method, we tested how cholesterol could influence lateral segregation through its interaction with unsaturated PLs with different headgroups. The results showed that the lower the affinity of cholesterol was for the different unsaturated PLs, the more cholesterol stimulated lateral segregation in a ternary bilayer of unsaturated PL/N-palmitoyl-D-erythro-sphingomyelin and cholesterol. Overall, the results indicate that both the distribution of cholesterol between different lipid environments and the impact of cholesterol on lateral segregation can be predicted relatively accurately from determined relative partition coefficients.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)296–307
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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