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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1988 Feb 18;938(2):143-54.

Modification of lipid phase behavior with membrane-bound cryoprotectants.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena 91125.


Several derivatives of cholesterol containing oxyethylene headgroups with and without a terminal galactose have been synthesized in order to examine the effects of immobilizing a cryoprotectant at a membrane surface. In this work, we have studied the ability of the triethoxycholesterol (TEC) and triethoxycholesterol galactose (TEC-Gal) derivatives to modulate the phase behavior of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine membranes. Methods of fluorescence polarization, 31P-NMR and freeze-fracture electron microscopy were employed to monitor these changes in lipid phase behavior. Fluorescence polarization data demonstrated the ability of the derivatives to fluidize gel state and rigidify liquid-crystalline state phosphatidylcholines in a manner similar to that observed for cholesterol. Unlike cholesterol, however, the Tm of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) was reduced in a concentration-dependent manner with each of the derivatives. Freeze-fracture electron microscopy and 31P-NMR of DOPE dispersions indicate an increase in the lamellar to hexagonal phase-transition temperature on the order of 10-20 C degrees above room temperature for mixtures with 20 mol% of the derivatives. These results are discussed in terms of the properties exhibited by compounds such as carbohydrates, which are known to serve as cryoprotectants for synthetic and biological membranes.

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