Phase equilibria in DOPC/DPPC: Conversion from gel to subgel in two component mixtures
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Biological membranes contain a mixture of phospholipids with varying degrees of hydrocarbon chain unsaturation. Mixtures of long chain saturated and unsaturated lipids with cholesterol have attracted a lot of attention because of the formation of two coexisting fluid bilayer phases in such systems over a broad range of temperature and composition. Interpretation of the phase behavior of such ternary mixtures must be based on a thorough understanding of the phase behavior of the binary mixtures formed with the same components. This article describes the phase behavior of mixtures of 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC) with 1,2-di-d(31)-palmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) between -20 and 50 degrees C. Particular attention has been paid to the phase coexistence below about 16 degrees C where the subgel phase appears. The changes in the shape of the spectrum (and its spectral moments) during the slow transformation process leads to the conclusion that below 16 degrees C the gel phase is metastable and the gel component of the two-phase mixture slowly transforms to the subgel phase with a slightly different composition. This results in a line of three-phase coexistence near 16 degrees C. Analysis of the transformation of the metastable gel domains into the subgel phase using the nucleation and growth model shows that the subgel domain growth is a two dimensional process.
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