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Biophys J. Oct 2001; 81(4): 2163–2171.
PMCID: PMC1301688

Structural evaluation of phospholipid bicelles for solution-state studies of membrane-associated biomolecules.

Abstract

Several complementary physical techniques have been used to characterize the aggregate structures formed in solutions containing dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC)/dihexanoylphosphatidylcholine (DHPC) at ratios of < or =0.5 and to establish their morphology and lipid organization as that of bicelles. (31)P NMR studies showed that the DMPC and DHPC components were highly segregated over a wide range of DMPC/DHPC ratios (q = 0.05-0.5) and temperatures (15 degrees C and 37 degrees C). Only at phospholipid concentrations below 130 mM did the bicelles appear to undergo a change in morphology. These results were corroborated by fluorescence data, which demonstrated the inverse dependence of bicelle size on phospholipid concentration as well as a distinctive change in phospholipid arrangement at low concentrations. In addition, dynamic light scattering and electron microscopy studies supported the hypothesis that the bicellar phospholipid aggregates are disk-shaped. The radius of the planar domain of the disk was found to be directly proportional to the ratio of DMPC/DHPC and inversely proportional to the total phospholipid concentration when the DMPC/DHPC ratio was held constant at 0.5. Taken together, these results suggest that bicelles with low q retain the morphology and bilayer organization typical of their liquid-crystalline counterparts, making them useful membrane mimetics.

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Selected References

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