The phase transition characteristics of bilayers formed in a codispersion of 1-acyl lysophosphatidylcholine and a fatty acid depend on the chain length of both the components and on the pH of the aqueous medium. Incorporation of cholesterol as a third component abolishes the transition. It is suggested that acyl chain interactions between fatty acid and 1-acyl lysophosphatidylcholine molecules in their aqueous codispersions are maximized by close-packing such that the acyl chains of both molecules are aligned parallel to each other and the carboxyl group is located in the vicinity of the 2-hydroxyl group of lysophosphatidylcholine. The shape and size of a functional dimer thus formed are similar but not identical to those of 1,2-diacyl phosphatidylcholine. Several predictions arising from this suggestion, including phase separation in codispersions of fatty acid + 1-acyl lysophosphatidylcholine + diacyl phosphatidylcholine, are experimentally confirmed. © 1981.
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