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Biophys J. 1987 Nov;52(5):791-9.

Dynamics of the phosphate group in phospholipid bilayers. A 31P nuclear relaxation time study.

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Guelph-Waterloo Program for Graduate Work in Physics, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


The spin-lattice relaxation time of the 31P nucleus in the phosphate group of egg yolk phosphatidylcholine multilamellar dispersions has been investigated at four resonant frequencies (38.9, 81.0, 108.9, and 145.7 MHz) in the temperature range from -30 degrees to 60 degrees C. The observed frequency dependence of the relaxation indicates that both dipolar relaxation and relaxation due to anisotropic chemical shielding are significant mechanisms. The experimental data have thus been modeled assuming both mechanisms and the analysis has allowed the contribution of each to the relaxation to be determined along with the correlation time for the molecular reorientation as a function of temperature. Dipolar relaxation was found to dominate at low nuclear magnetic resonance frequencies while at high frequencies the anisotropic chemical shift dominates. The correlation time of the phosphate group is on the order of 10(-9) s at 60 degrees C and increases to approximately 10(-7) s at -30 degrees C. It is observed that the freezing of the buffer which occurs at approximately -8 degrees C has a significant effect on the phosphate group reorientation. This effect of the freezing is to change the activation energy for the phosphate group reorientation from 16.9 KJ/mol above -8 degrees C to 32.5 KJ/mol below -8 degrees C.

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