Influence of Cholesterol on the Polar Region of Phosphatidylcholine and Phosphatidylethanolamine Bilayers†

Michael F. Brown, Joachim Seelig

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175 Scopus citations

Abstract

The structural changes in the polar head group region of unsonicated bilayer membranes of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine and 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine produced by addition of cholesterol have been determined using deuterium and phosphorus-31 NMR. Incorporation of up to 50 mol % cholesterol produces little change in the phosphorus-31 chemical shielding anisotropics, compared with the values in pure bilayers above the phase transition temperatures, while some of the deuterium quadrupole splittings are reduced by almost a factor of two. Adjustment of the head group torsion angles by only a few degrees accounts for the observed spectral changes. Addition of cholesterol therefore has opposite effects on the hydrocarbon and polar regions of membranes: although cholesterol makes the hydrocarbon region gel-like, with an increased probability of trans conformations, the conformation of the polar head groups is very similar to that found in the liquid crystalline phase of pure phospholipid bilayers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-384
Number of pages4
JournalBiochemistry
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

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