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Biophys J. 2003 Feb;84(2 Pt 1):987-97.

Properties of palmitoyl phosphatidylcholine, sphingomyelin, and dihydrosphingomyelin bilayer membranes as reported by different fluorescent reporter molecules.

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Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacy, Abo Akademi University, FIN 20521 Turku, Finland.


The properties of vesicle membranes prepared from 16:0-SM, 16:0-DHSM, or DPPC were characterized using steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy and different fluorescent reporter molecules. The acyl-chain region was probed using free and phospholipid-bound 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene. 16:0-DHSM was found to be the more ordered than both DPPC and 16:0-SM 5 degrees C below and above melting temperature. Interfacial properties of the phospholipid bilayers were examined using 6-dodecanoyl-2-dimethyl-aminonaphthalene (Laurdan), 6-propionyl-2-dimethyl-amino-naphthalene (Prodan), and dansyl-PE. Laurdan and Prodan reported that the two sphingomyelin (SM) membrane interfaces were clearly different from the DPPC membrane interface, whereas the two SM membrane interfaces had more similar properties (both in gel and liquid-crystalline phase). Prodan partition studies showed that membrane resistance to Prodan partitioning increased in the order: 16:0-SM < DPPC < 16:0-DHSM. The degree to which dansyl-PE is exposed to water reflects the structural properties of the membrane-water interface. By comparing the lifetime of dansyl-PE in water and deuterium oxide solution, we could show that the degree to which the dansyl moiety was exposed to water in the membranes increased in the order: 16:0-SM < DPPC < 16:0-DHSM. In conclusion, this study has shown that DHSM forms more ordered bilayers than acyl-chain matched SM or phosphatidylcholine, even in the liquid-crystalline state.

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