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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1987 Oct 5;906(3):353-404.

Lipid intermolecular hydrogen bonding: influence on structural organization and membrane function.

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Department of Biochemistry, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.


The great variety of different lipids in membranes, with modifications to the hydrocarbon chains, polar groups and backbone structure suggests that many of these lipids may have unique roles in membrane structure and function. Acidic groups on lipids are clearly important, since they allow interaction with basic groups on proteins and with divalent cations. Another important property of certain lipids is their ability to interact intermolecularly with other lipids via hydrogen bonds. This interaction occurs through acidic and basic moieties in the polar head groups of phospholipids, and the amide moiety and hydroxyl groups on the acyl chain, sphingosine base and sugar groups of sphingo- and glycolipids. The putative ability of different classes of lipids to interact by intermolecular hydrogen bonding, the molecular groups which may participate and the effect of these interactions on some of their physical properties are summarized in Table IX. It is frequently questioned whether intermolecular hydrogen bonding could occur between lipids in the presence of water. Correlations of their properties with their molecular structures, however, suggest that it can. Participation in intermolecular hydrogen bonding increases the lipid phase transition temperature by approx. 8-16 Cdeg relative to the electrostatically shielded state and by 20-30 Cdeg relative to the repulsively charged state, while having variable effects on the enthalpy. It increases the packing density in monolayers, possibly also in the liquid-crystalline phase in bilayers, and decreases the lipid hydration. These effects can probably be accounted for by transient, fluctuating hydrogen bonds involving only a small percentage of the lipid at any one time. Thus, rotational and lateral diffusion of the lipids may take place but at a slower rate, and the lateral expansion is limited. Intermolecular hydrogen bonding between lipids in bilayers may be significantly stabilized, despite the presence of water, by the fact that the lipids are already intermolecularly associated as a result of the hydrophobic effect and the Van der Waals' interactions between their chains. The tendency of certain lipids to self-associate, their asymmetric distribution in SUVs, their preferential association with cholesterol in non-cocrystallizing mixtures, their temperature-induced transitions to the hexagonal phase and their inhibitory effect on penetration of hydrophobic residues of proteins partway into the bilayer can all be explained by their participation in intermolecular hydrogen bonding interactions.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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