Phase separation of saturated and mono-unsaturated lipids as determined from a microscopic model

Elliott, R.; Katsov, K.; Schick, M.; Szleifer, I.
January 2005
Journal of Chemical Physics;1/22/2005, Vol. 122 Issue 4, p044904
Academic Journal
A molecular model is proposed of a bilayer consisting of fully saturated dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) and mono-unsaturated dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC). The model not only encompasses the constant density within the hydrophobic core of the bilayer, but also the tendency of chain segments to align. It is solved within self-consistent field theory. A model bilayer of DPPC undergoes a main-chain transition to a gel phase, while a bilayer of DOPC does not do so above zero degrees centigrade because of the double bond which disrupts order. We examine structural and thermodynamic properties of these membranes and find our results in reasonable accord with experiment. In particular, order-parameter profiles are in good agreement with NMR experiments. A phase diagram is obtained for mixtures of these lipids in a membrane at zero tension. The system undergoes phase separation below the main-chain transition temperature of the saturated lipid. Extensions to the ternary DPPC, DOPC, and cholesterol system are outlined. © 2005 American Institute of Physics.


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