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Spin-label studies on phosphatidylcholine-cholesterol membranes: effects of alkyl chain length and unsaturation in the fluid phase. Biochim Biophys Acta 1986 Jan 29;854(2):307-17



Pubmed ID





Dynamic properties of phosphatidylcholine-cholesterol membranes in the fluid phase and water accessibility to the membranes have been studied as a function of phospholipid alkyl chain length, saturation, mole fraction of cholesterol, and temperature by using spin and fluorescence labelling methods. The results are the following: (1) The effect of cholesterol on motional freedom of 5-doxyl stearic acid spin label (5-SASL) and 16-doxyl stearic acid spin label (16-SASL) in saturated phosphatidylcholine membrane is significantly larger than the effects of alkyl chain length and introduction of unsaturation in the alkyl chain. (2) Variation of alkyl chain length of saturated phospholipids does not alter the effects of cholesterol except in the case of dilauroylphosphatidylcholine, which possesses the shortest alkyl chains (12 carbons) used in this work. (3) Unsaturation of the alkyl chains greatly reduces the ordering effect of cholesterol at C-5 and C-16 positions although unsaturation alone gives only minor fluidizing effects. (4) Introduction of 30 mol% cholesterol to dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine membranes decreases the lateral diffusion constants of lipids by a factor of four, while it causes only a slight decrease of lateral diffusion in dioleoylphosphatidylcholine membranes. (5) If compared at the same temperature, 5-SASL mobilities plotted as a function of mole fraction of cholesterol in the fluid phases of dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine-, dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine- and distearoylphosphatidylcholine-cholesterol membranes are similar in wide ranges of temperature (45-82 degrees C) and cholesterol mole fraction (0-50%). (6) In isothermal experiments with saturated phosphatidylcholine membranes, 5-SASL is maximally immobilized at the phase boundary between Regions I and III reported by other workers (Recktenwald, D.J. and McConnell, H.M. (1981) Biochemistry 20, 4505-4510) and becomes more mobile away from the boundary in Regions I and III. (7) 5-SASL in unsaturated phosphatidylcholine membranes showed a gradual monotonic immobilization with increase of cholesterol mole fraction without showing any maximum in the range of cholesterol fractions studied. (8) By rigorously determining rigid-limit magnetic parameters of cholestane spin labels in membranes from Q-band second-derivative ESR spectra to monitor the dielectric environment around the nitroxide radical, it is concluded that cholesterol incorporation increases water accessibility in the hydrophilic loci of the membrane. In contrast, 12-(9-anthroyloxy)stearic acid fluorescence showed that water accessibility is decreased in the hydrophobic loci of the membrane.

Author List

Kusumi A, Subczynski WK, Pasenkiewicz-Gierula M, Hyde JS, Merkle H


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

Cyclic N-Oxides
Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
Fluorescent Dyes
Spin Labels
Structure-Activity Relationship