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PLoS One. 2013 May 8;8(5):e62488. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062488. Print 2013.

Dependence of micelle size and shape on detergent alkyl chain length and head group.

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1
Department of Chemistry, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States of America.

Abstract

Micelle-forming detergents provide an amphipathic environment that can mimic lipid bilayers and are important tools for solubilizing membrane proteins for functional and structural investigations in vitro. However, the formation of a soluble protein-detergent complex (PDC) currently relies on empirical screening of detergents, and a stable and functional PDC is often not obtained. To provide a foundation for systematic comparisons between the properties of the detergent micelle and the resulting PDC, a comprehensive set of detergents commonly used for membrane protein studies are systematically investigated. Using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), micelle shapes and sizes are determined for phosphocholines with 10, 12, and 14 alkyl carbons, glucosides with 8, 9, and 10 alkyl carbons, maltosides with 8, 10, and 12 alkyl carbons, and lysophosphatidyl glycerols with 14 and 16 alkyl carbons. The SAXS profiles are well described by two-component ellipsoid models, with an electron rich outer shell corresponding to the detergent head groups and a less electron dense hydrophobic core composed of the alkyl chains. The minor axis of the elliptical micelle core from these models is constrained by the length of the alkyl chain, and increases by 1.2-1.5 Å per carbon addition to the alkyl chain. The major elliptical axis also increases with chain length; however, the ellipticity remains approximately constant for each detergent series. In addition, the aggregation number of these detergents increases by ∼16 monomers per micelle for each alkyl carbon added. The data provide a comprehensive view of the determinants of micelle shape and size and provide a baseline for correlating micelle properties with protein-detergent interactions.

PMID:
23667481
PMCID:
PMC3648574
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0062488
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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