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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Aug;1798(8):1615-22. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2010.03.022. Epub 2010 Mar 30.

Phosphatidyl alcohols: effect of head group size on domain forming properties and interactions with sterols.

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Biochemistry, Department of biosciences, Abo Akademi University, 20520 Turku, Finland.


In this study, we have examined the membrane properties and sterol interactions of phosphatidyl alcohols varying in the size of the alcohol head group coupled to the sn-3-linked phosphate. Phosphatidyl alcohols of interest were dipalmitoyl derivatives with methanol (DPPMe), ethanol (DPPEt), propanol (DPPPr), or butanol (DPPBu) head groups. The Phosphatidyl alcohols are biologically relevant, because they can be formed in membranes by the phospholipase D reaction in the presence of alcohol. The melting behavior of pure phosphatidyl alcohols and mixtures with 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) or cholesterol was assessed using high sensitivity differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). DPPMe had the highest melting temperature ( approximately 49 degrees C), whereas the other phosphatidyl alcohols had similar melting temperatures as DPPC ( approximately 40-41 degrees C). All phosphatidyl alcohols, except DPPMe, also showed good miscibility with DPPC. The effects of cholesterol on the melting behavior and membrane order in multilamellar bilayer vesicles were assessed using steady-state anisotropy of 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (DPH) and DSC. The ordering effect of cholesterol in the fluid phase was lower for all phosphatidyl alcohols as compared to DPPC and decreased with increasing head group size. The formation of ordered domains containing the phosphatidyl alcohols in complex bilayer membranes was determined using fluorescence quenching of DPH or the sterol analogue cholesta-5,7,(11)-trien-3-beta-ol (CTL). The phosphatidyl alcohols did not appear to form sterol-enriched ordered domains, whereas DPPMe, DPPEt appeared to form ordered domains in the temperature window examined (10-50 degrees C). The partitioning of CTL into bilayer membranes containing phosphatidyl alcohols was to a small extent increased for DPPMe and DPPEt, but in general, sterol interactions were weak or unfavorable for the phosphatidyl alcohols. Our results show that the biophysical and sterol interacting properties of phosphatidyl alcohols, having identical acyl chain structures, are markedly dependent on the size of the head group.

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