Phospholipid order in gel- and fluid-phase cell-size liposomes measured by digitized video fluorescence polarization microscopy

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Low-light digitized video fluorescence microscopy has been utilized to measure the steady-state polarized fluorescence from the membrane probe diphenylhexatriene (DPH) and its cationic and phosphatidylcholine derivatives 1-(4-trimethylammoniumphenyl)-6-phenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (TMA-DPH) and 2-[3-(diphenylhexatrienyl)propanoyl]-3-palmitoyl-L-alpha-phosphati dylcholine (DPH-PC), respectively, in cell-size (10–70 microns) unilamellar vesicles composed of gel-or fluid-phase phospholipid. Using an inverted microscope with epi-illumination optics and an intensified silicon intensified target camera interfaced to a minicomputer, fluorescence images of single vesicles were obtained at emission polarizer orientations of 0 degrees, 45 degrees, 90 degrees, and 135 degrees relative to the excitation light polarization direction. Fluorescence intensity ratios F90 degrees/F0 degrees (= F perpendicular/F parallel) and F135 degrees/F45 degrees were calculated on a pixel-by-pixel basis from digitized image pairs. Theoretical expressions were derived for collected polarized fluorescence as a function of position on the membrane surface as well as the degree of lipid order, in terms of the fluorophore's maximum angular motional freedom in the bilayer (identical to theta max), using a modification of the method of D. Axelrod (1979. Biophys. J. 26:557–574) together with the "wobbling-in-a-cone" model of probe rotational diffusion. Comparison of experimental polarization ratios with theoretical ratios yielded the following results. In gel-phase dipalmitoyl-phosphatidylcholine, the data for all three probes correspond to a model in which the cone angle theta max = 17 +/- 2 degrees and there exists a collective tilt of the phospholipid acyl chains of 30 degrees relative to the bilayer normal. In addition, approximately 5% of DPH and TMA-DPH molecules are aligned parallel to the plane of the bilayer. In fluid-phase palmitoyloleoyl-phosphatidylcholine, the data are well fit by models in which theta max = 60 +/- 2 degrees for DPH and DPH-PC and 32 +/- 4 degrees for TMA-DPH, with approximately 20% of DPH molecules and 10% of TMA-DPH molecules aligned parallel to the bilayer plane, and a net phospholipid tilt at or near the headgroup region of approximately 30 degrees. The results demonstrate that lipid order can be measured with a spatial resolution of approximately 1 micron2 in cell-size vesicles even with high aperture observation through a microscope. © 1990, The Biophysical Society. All rights reserved.




Florine-Casteel, K. (1990). Phospholipid order in gel- and fluid-phase cell-size liposomes measured by digitized video fluorescence polarization microscopy. Biophysical Journal, 57(6), 1199–1215.

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