Medical College of Wisconsin
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Formation of cholesterol bilayer domains precedes formation of cholesterol crystals in cholesterol/dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine membranes: EPR and DSC studies. J Phys Chem B 2013 Aug 01;117(30):8994-9003



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Saturation-recovery EPR along with DSC were used to determine the cholesterol content at which pure cholesterol bilayer domains (CBDs) and cholesterol crystals begin to form in dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) membranes. To preserve compositional homogeneity throughout the membrane suspension, lipid multilamellar dispersions were prepared using a rapid solvent exchange method. The cholesterol content increased from 0 to 75 mol %. With spin-labeled cholesterol analogues, it was shown that the CBDs begin to form at ~50 mol % cholesterol. It was confirmed by DSC that the cholesterol solubility threshold for DMPC membranes is detected at ~66 mol % cholesterol. At levels above this cholesterol content, monohydrate cholesterol crystals start to form. The major finding is that the formation of CBDs precedes formation of cholesterol crystals. The region of the phase diagram for cholesterol contents between 50 and 66 mol % is described as a structured one-phase region in which CBDs have to be supported by the surrounding DMPC bilayer saturated with cholesterol. Thus, the phase boundary located at 66 mol % cholesterol separates the structured one-phase region (liquid-ordered phase of DMPC with CBDs) from the two-phase region where the structured liquid-ordered phase of DMPC coexists with cholesterol crystals. It is likely that CBDs are precursors of monohydrate cholesterol crystals.

Author List

Mainali L, Raguz M, Subczynski WK


Witold K. Subczynski PhD Professor in the Biophysics department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Calorimetry, Differential Scanning
Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
Lipid Bilayers
Spin Labels