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Biochemistry. 1989 May 2;28(9):3710-5.

Osmoelastic coupling in biological structures: decrease in membrane fluidity and osmophobic association of phospholipid vesicles in response to osmotic stress.

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Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Science, Kyoto University, Japan.


Poly(ethylene glycol)- (PEG-) induced change in membrane fluidity and aggregation of phospholipid vesicles were studied. A threshold concentration of PEG was required to induce the aggregation. This concentration increased with a decrease in the molecular weight of PEG, e.g., from 5% (w/w) with PEG 6000 (PEG with an average molecular weight of 7500) to more than 30% (w/w) with PEG 200. The aggregation was reversible upon dilution of PEG if the initial PEG concentration was smaller than a certain value, e.g., 22% (w/w) for PEG 6000. Addition of PEG caused a decrease in membrane fluidity of the vesicles detected by fluorescence anisotropy of diphenylhexatriene and by electron spin resonance of a spin-labeled fatty acid. The anisotropy change of diphenylhexatriene fluidity change had an inflection point at approximately 5% (w/w) of PEG 6000, which might suggest that the aggregation would make the decrease of membrane fluidity smaller. Transfer of lipid molecules between phospholipid vesicles was enhanced by the PEG-induced aggregation. The enhancement occurred not only upon direct addition of PEG to the suspending medium, but also upon dialysis of the vesicle suspension against a high concentration of PEG. All these features are consistent with osmoelastic coupling in the phospholipid membranes and the subsequent osmophobic association of the vesicles. The imbalance of osmolarity between the region adjacent to the vesicle surface (exclusion layer) and the bulk aqueous phase, which results from the preferential exclusion of PEG from the exclusion layer in the case of direct addition of PEG, exerts an osmotic stress on the vesicles.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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