Send to

Choose Destination
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Sep;1788(9):1877-89. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2009.07.005. Epub 2009 Jul 17.

Thermotropic and structural evaluation of the interaction of natural sphingomyelins with cholesterol.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NN, UK.


The structural transitions in aqueous dispersions of egg-sphingomyelin and bovine brain-sphingomyelin and sphingomyelin co-dispersed with different proportions of cholesterol were compared during temperature scans between 20 degrees and 50 degrees Celsius using small-angle and wide-angle X-ray scattering techniques. The Bragg reflections observed in the small-angle scattering region from pure phospholipids and codispersions of sphingomyelin:cholesterol in molar ratios 80:20 and 50:50 could all be deconvolved using peak fitting methods into two coexisting lamellar structures. Electron density profiles through the unit cell normal to the bilayer plane were calculated to derive bilayer and water layer thicknesses of coexisting structures at 20 degrees and 50 degrees Celsius. Codispersions of sphingomyelin:cholesterol in a molar ratio 60:40 consisted of an apparently homogeneous bilayer structure designated as liquid-ordered phase. Curve fitting analysis of the wide-angle scattering bands were applied to correlate changes in packing arrangements of hydrocarbon in the hydrophobic domain of the bilayer with changes in enthalpy recorded by differential scanning calorimetry. At 20 degrees Celsius the wide-angle scattering bands of both pure sphingomyelins and codispersions of sphingomyelin and cholesterol could be deconvolved into two symmetric components. A sharp component located at a d-spacing of 0.42 nm was assigned to a gel phase in which the hydrocarbon chains are oriented perpendicular to the bilayer plane. A broader symmetric band centered at d-spacings in the region of 0.44 nm was assigned as disordered hydrocarbon in dispersions of pure sphingomyelin and as liquid-ordered phase in codispersions of sphingomyelin and cholesterol. It is concluded from the peak fitting analysis that cholesterol is excluded from gel phases of egg and brain sphingomyelins at 20 degrees Celsius. The gel phases coexist with liquid-ordered phase comprised of egg-sphingomyelin and 27 mol% cholesterol and brain-sphingomyelin and 33 mol% cholesterol, respectively. Correlation of the disappearance of gel phase during heating scans and the enthalpy change recorded by calorimetry in codispersions of sphingomyelin and cholesterol leads to the conclusion that a major contribution to the broadened phase transition endotherm originates from dilution of the cholesterol-rich liquid-ordered phase by mobilization of sphingomyelin from the melting gel phase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center