Evidence for superlattice arrangements in fluid phosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylethanolamine bilayers

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Recently, evidence for cholesterol and phosphatidylcholine (PC) molecules to adapt superlattice arrangements in fluid lipid bilayers has been presented. Whether superlattice arrangements exist in other biologically relevant lipid membranes, such as phosphatidylethanolamine (PE)/PC, is still speculative. In this study, we have examined the physical properties of fluid 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-PC (POPC) and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-PE (POPE) binary mixtures as a function of the POPE mole fraction (X(PE)) using fluorescence and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. At 30°C. i.e., above the T(m) of POPE and POPC, deviations, or dips, as well as local data scattering in the excimer-to-monomer fluorescence intensity ratio of intramolecular excimer forming dipyrenylphosphatidylcholine probe in POPE/POPC mixtures were detected at X(PE) ≃ 0.04, 0.11, 0.16, 0.26, 0.33, 0.51, 0.06, 0.75, 0.82, 0.91, and 0.94. The above critical values of X(PE) coincide (within ± 0.03) with the critical mole fractions X(HX,PE) or X(R,PE) predicted by a headgroup superlattice model, which assumes that the lipid headgroups form hexagona or rectangular superlattice, respectively, in the bilayer. Other spectroscopic data, generalized polarization of Laurdan and infrared carbonyl and phosphate stretching frequency, were also collected. Similar agreements between some of the observed critical values of X(PE) from these data and the X(HX,PE) or X(R,PE) values were also found. However, all techniques yielded critical values of X(PE) (e.g., 0.42 and 0.58) that cannot be explained by the present headgroup superlattice model. The effective cross-sectional area of the PE headgroup is smaller than that of the acyl chains. Hence, the relief of 'packing frustration' of PE in the presence of PC (larger headgroup than PE) may be one of the major mechanisms in driving the PE and PC components to superlattice-like lateral distributions in the bilayer. We propose that headgroup superlattices may play a significant role in the regulation of membrane lipid compositions in cells.




Cheng, K. H., Ruonala, M., Virtanen, J., & Somerharju, P. (1997). Evidence for superlattice arrangements in fluid phosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylethanolamine bilayers. Biophysical Journal, 73(4), 1967–1976. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(97)78227-4

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