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Biophys J. 2008 Dec 15;95(12):5637-47. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.108.136895. Epub 2008 Oct 3.

Behavioral differences between phosphatidic acid and phosphatidylcholine in the presence of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.

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Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California, Davis, California, USA.


It has been found experimentally that negatively charged phosphatidic acid (PA) lipids and cholesterol molecules stabilize the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) in a functional resting state that can participate in an agonist-induced conformational change. In this study, we compare phosphatidylcholine (PC) and PA lipid behavior in the presence of the nAChR to determine why PC lipids do not support a functional nAChR. For lipids that are located within 1.0 nm of the protein, both PC and PA lipids have very similar order-parameter and bilayer-thickness values, which indicate that the annular lipid properties are protein-dependent. The most significant difference between the PC and PA bilayers is the formation of a lipid domain around the protein, which is visible in the PA bilayer but not the PC bilayer. This suggests that the PA domain may help stabilize the nAChR resting state. The PA lipids in the microdomain have a decreased order compared to a homogeneous PA bilayer and the lipids near the protein attempt to increase the free space in their vicinity by residing in multiple lateral planes.

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