It is shown that the organization of lipid bilayers containing phosphatidic acid (PA) and phosphatidlycholine (PC) can be controlled by altering the monovalent and divalent ion concentrations. At high pH and/or calcium concentration, 1:1 Ca(2+)-PA(2-) complexes form; these complexes demix, and PA-rich and PC-rich regions are observable with epifluorescence microscopy. The results are compared with predictions from electrostatic theory. It is noted that the complex formation correlates in a roughly linear fashion with the monovalent/divalent ion ratio, a parameter that cells adjust.
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