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Chem Phys Lipids. 1993 Apr;65(1):31-42.

Phase separated anionic domains in ternary mixed lipid monolayers at the air-water interface.

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Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences, Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, Beaverton 97006-1999.


A series of ternary mixed monolayers containing varying amounts of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) and equimolar additions of 1-palmitoyl-2-hydroxy-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (LYSO-PC) and palmitic acid (PA) were studied at the air-water interface. These mixed monolayers were used to model phospholipid biomembrane interfaces resulting from phospholipase A2 (PLA2) hydrolysis. Recent work [D.W. Grainger A. Reichert, H. Ringsdorf and C. Salesse (1989) Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1023, 365-379] has shown that PLA2 hydrolysis of pure phospholipid monolayers results in formation of large PLA2 domains at the air-water interface. These domains are proposed to result from PLA2 adsorption to phase separated regions in the hydrolyzed monolayer. To elucidate the phase behaviour in these monolayer systems, surface pressure-area isotherms were measured for the ternary mixtures on pure water and buffered subphases. Fluorescence microscopy at the air-water interface was used to image fluorescent probe-doped monolayer mixtures during isothermal compressions. A water-soluble cationic carbocyanine dye was used to probe the interfacial properties of the mixed monolayers. Isotherm data do not provide unambiguous evidence for either phase separation or ideal mixing of monolayer components. Fluorescence microscopy is more revealing, showing that lateral phase separation of microstructures containing palmitic acid occurred only when monolayer subphases contained Ca2+ ions at alkaline pH. At either low pH or on Ca(2+)-free subphases, phase separation was not observed.

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