Curvature properties of novel forms of phosphatidylcholine with branched acyl chains
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We studied the properties of a series of phosphatidylcholine molecules with branched acyl chains. These lipids have previously been shown to have marked stimulatory effects on the side-chain cleavage activity of cytochrome P450SCC (CYP11A1), an enzyme of the inner mitochondrial membrane. The synthetic lipids used were diacyl phosphatidylcholines with the decanoyl, dodecanoyl or tetradecanoyl chain having a hexyl, octyl or decyl straight chain aliphatic branch at the 2-position. All three lipids lowered the bilayer to hexagonal phase transition temperature of dielaidoyl phosphatidylethanolamine, the lipids with longer acyl chains being more effective in this regard. As pure lipids all of the forms were found by X-ray diffraction to be predominantly in the hexagonal phase (HII) over the entire temperature range of 7-75 degrees C. The properties of the HII phase were unusual with regard to the small size of the lattice spacings and the small temperature dependence of the spacings. We used tetradecane to relieve hydrocarbon packing constraints to determine the intrinsic radius of curvature of the lipid monolayer. The elastic bending modulus was measured in the presence of tetradecane by introducing an osmotic gradient across the hexagonal phase cylinders with aqueous solutions of poly(ethylene glycol). The elastic bending modulus was found to be higher than that observed with other lipids and to increase with temperature. Both the small intrinsic radius of curvature and the high elastic bending modulus indicate that the presence of these lipids in bilayer membranes will impose a high degree of negative curvature strain.
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