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Langmuir. 2012 Jan 10;28(1):676-88. doi: 10.1021/la203748q. Epub 2011 Nov 30.

Interactions of a hydrophobically modified polycation with zwitterionic lipid membranes.

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Faculty of Chemistry, Jagiellonian University, Ingardena 3, 30-060 Kraków, Poland.


The interactions between synthetic polycations and phospholipid bilayers play an important role in some biophysical applications such as gene delivery or antibacterial usage. Despite extensive investigation into the nature of these interactions, their physical and molecular bases remain poorly understood. In this Article, we present the results of our studies on the impact of a hydrophobically modified strong polycation on the properties of a zwitterionic bilayer used as a model of the mammalian cellular membrane. The study was carried out using a set of complementary experimental methods and molecular dynamic (MD) simulations. A new polycation, poly(allyl-N,N-dimethyl-N-hexylammonium chloride) (polymer 3), was synthesized, and its interactions with liposomes composed of 2-oleoyl-1-palmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) were examined using dynamic light scattering (DLS), zeta potential measurements, and cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM). Our results have shown that polymer 3 can efficiently associate with and insert into the POPC membrane. However, it does not change its lamellar structure, as was demonstrated by cryo-TEM. The influence of polymer 3 on the membrane functionality was studied by leakage experiments applying a fluorescence dye (calcein) encapsulated in the phospholipid vesicles. The MD simulations of model systems reveal that polymer 3 promotes formation of hydrophilic pores in the membrane, thus increasing considerably its permeability.

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