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Cryobiology. 1989 Feb;26(1):76-84.

Lipid phase transitions measured in intact cells with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.

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Department of Zoology, University of California, Davis 95616.


Lipid phase transitions in membranes are thought to be a major damaging event during cooling of cells prior to cryopreservation or during warming after freeze-thaw has been completed. Although there is abundant evidence that such transitions occur in isolated phospholipids, the evidence that they are found in membranes in intact cells is less clear, due largely to technical difficulties in detecting such transitions in the complex mixtures of lipids and proteins found in natural membranes. We show here that Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy provides a rapid, convenient method for detecting these transitions in intact cells. We have used intact pollen grains of cattail (Typha latifolia) as a primary experimental subject. Spectra taken of the intact pollen grains show most of the features commonly seen in natural membrane vesicles or pure phospholipids. Shifts in the vibrational frequency and width of the CH2 bands with temperature can be used to detect lipid phase transitions. Biochemical analysis, coupled with the spectroscopy, was used to assign transitions to nonpolar and polar lipids. Finally, although assignment of the melting lipid unambiguously in other cells has not yet been made, we show that the transitions can nevertheless be detected in other intact cells, including those of four plant species and sperm of three animals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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