Molecular and conformational ordering in aqueous multilamellar suspensions of 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) have been examined by deuterium nuclear magnetic resonance (2H NMR) in the liquid crystalline (L alpha) phase. Motionally averaged quadrupolar splittings vQ from six sites in the vicinity of the glycerol backbone have been analyzed by a molecular frame and order matrix approach in which the usual assumption of a freely-rotating molecule is not invoked. By assuming a relatively rigid glycerol backbone region, the six vQ values are found to be consistent with a conformation of the glycerol backbone that is almost identical to that of one of the two structures in crystalline DMPC dihydrate (Pearson, R. H., and I. Pascher, 1979, Nature (Lond.) 281: 499–501). The orientation of the most-ordered axis of the DMPC molecule is found to be tilted at an angle of 27 +/- 2 degrees with respect to the long axis of the sn-1 chain in its extended all trans conformation. The ordering of the most ordered molecular axis with respect to the bilayer normal is expressed by an order parameter of Szz approximately equal to 0.6 +/- 0.1, consistent with values in analogous thermotropic liquid crystals. © 1985, The Biophysical Society. All rights reserved.
Strenk, L. M., Westerman, P. W., & Doane, J. W. (1985). A model of orientational ordering in phosphatidylcholine bilayers based on conformational analysis of the glycerol backbone region. Biophysical Journal, 48(5), 765–773. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(85)83834-0