The organization of melatonin in lipid membranes
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Melatonin is a hormone that has been shown to have protective effects in several diseases that are associated with cholesterol dysregulation, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, and certain types of cancers. We studied the interaction of melatonin with model membranes made of dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) at melatonin concentrations ranging from 0.5mol% to 30mol%. From 2-dimensional X-ray diffraction measurements, we find that melatonin induces a re-ordering of the lipid membrane that is strongly dependent on the melatonin concentration. At low melatonin concentrations, we observe the presence of melatonin-enriched patches in the membrane, which are significantly thinner than the lipid bilayer. The melatonin molecules were found to align parallel to the lipid tails in these patches. At high melatonin concentrations of 30mol%, we observe a highly ordered melatonin structure that is uniform throughout the membrane, where the melatonin molecules align parallel to the bilayers and one melatonin molecule associates with 2 lipid molecules. Understanding the organization and interactions of melatonin in membranes, and how these are dependent on the concentration, may shed light into its anti-amyloidogenic, antioxidative and photoprotective properties and help develop a structural basis for these properties.
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