Changes in molecular order across the lamellar-to-inverted hexagonal phase transition depend on the position of the double-bond in mono-unsaturated phospholipid dispersions
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A series of mono-unsaturated phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) model membranes is studied using deuterium nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and differential scanning calorimetry. As the position of the double bond is systematically changed, the internal conformational motions are monitored through the bilayer-to-inverted-hexagonal phase transition. The order parameter profiles extracted from the NMR spectra report on the conformational order of the lipid and on the way this order is changed by structural reorganizations of the membrane. The calculation of a ratio of renormalized order parameter profiles is presented here as an attempt to distill the essential features of these changes into dimensionless descriptions of "shape" functions. This variation of the extent of molecular disorder along the long molecular axis of the phospholipids appears to be a recurring motif, modulated by temperature, structural rearrangement, and chemical composition of the membrane. The reported experimentally measured changes in the shape of the order parameter profile can be compared to those obtained during molecular dynamics simulation studies.
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