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Biophys J. 2005 Sep;89(3):1827-32. Epub 2005 Jul 1.

Areas of molecules in membranes consisting of mixtures.

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  • 1Theoretical Biological Physics, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.


The question has arisen in recent literature: how to partition the total area in simulations of membranes consisting of more than one kind of molecule into average areas for each kind of molecule. Several definitions have been proposed, each of which has arbitrary features. When applied to mixtures of cholesterol and DPPC, these definitions give different results. This note recalls that physical chemistry provides a canonical way to define molecular area, in analogy to the definition of partial-specific volume. Results for partial-specific area are obtained from simulations of DPPC/cholesterol bilayers and compared to the results from the other recent definitions. The partial-specific-area formalism dramatically demonstrates the condensing effect of cholesterol and this leads to the introduction of a specific model that accounts for the area of mixtures of cholesterol and lipid over the entire range of cholesterol concentrations.

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