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J Phys Chem B. 2007 Dec 27;111(51):14186-92. Epub 2007 Dec 5.

Molecular dynamics simulations of ternary membrane mixture: phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidic acid, and cholesterol.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


A ternary mixture of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl phosphatidylcholine (POPC), 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl phosphatidic acid (POPA), and cholesterol (CHOL) works effectively for a functional conformation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) that can undergo agonist-induced conformation changes, but POPC alone can stabilize only a desensitized state of nAChR. To gain insights into the lipid mixture that has strong impact to nAChR functions, we performed more than 50 ns all atom molecular dynamic (MD) simulations at 303 K on a fully hydrated bilayer consisting of 240 POPC, 80 POPA, and 80 CHOL (3:1:1). The MD simulation revealed various interactions between different types of molecular pairs that ultimately regulated lipid organization. The heterogeneous interactions among three different constituents resulted in a broad spectrum of lipid properties, including extensive distributions of average area per lipid and varied lipid ordering as a function of lipid closeness to CHOL. Higher percentage of POPA than POPC had close association with CHOL, which coincided with relatively higher ordering of POPA molecules in their acyl chains near lipid head groups. Lower fraction of gauche dihedrals was also found in the same region of POPA. Although the CHOL molecules had the effects on the enhancement of surrounding lipid order, relatively low lipid order parameters and high fraction of gauche bonds were observed in the ternary mixture. Collectively, these results suggest that the dynamical structure of the ternary system could be determinant for a functional nAChR.

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