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J Struct Biol. 1990 Oct-Dec;105(1-3):11-21.

Phase diagram of lipid A from Salmonella minnesota and Escherichia coli rough mutant lipopolysaccharide.

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Forschungsinstitut Borstel, Federal Republic of Germany.


We have reported here on the structural polymorphism of lipid A, the "endotoxic principle" of bacterial lipopolysaccharide. For lipid A of rough mutant lipopolysaccharide from Salmonella minnesota and Escherichia coli, the three-dimensional supramolecular structures were determined with x-ray diffraction utilizing synchrotron radiation. The investigations were performed in the water concentration range 10 to 95% by weight, at [lipid A]:[Mg2+] molar ratios from 1:0 to 0.1:1, and in the temperature range from 20 to 70 degrees C. These data were correlated with measurements of the beta----alpha phase behaviour which was monitored with differential scanning calorimetry and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. We found that the transition temperature of the acyl chains ranges--in the absence of Mg2(+)-from 45 degrees C at high to 56 degrees C at low water content, and-at an equimolar content of Mg2(+)-from 52 degrees C at high to 59 degrees C at low water concentrations. In the gel phase-in which the lipid A acyl chains are more disordered than those from saturated phospholipids-cubic phases are adopted at high water content (greater than 60%) and at high [lipid A]:[Mg2+] molar ratios. At low water contents, lamellar states are assumed exclusively. In the liquid crystalline state of lipid A, the hexagonal HII state is adopted under all conditions. The structural variability of lipid A is highest at high water concentrations, and structural changes may be induced by only slight changes in temperature, water content, and Mg2+ concentration. Under physiological conditions, however, the lipid A assemblies exhibit a strong preference to cubic structures.

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