An Unexpected Driving Force for Lipid Order Appears in Asymmetric Lipid Bilayers

Gerald W. Feigenson, Juyang Huang, Thais A. Enoki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


An ordered phase in one leaflet of an asymmetric bilayer can induce a precisely superimposed induced order domain in the apposed leaflet. Order is induced in such simple lipid compositions as dioleoylphosphatidylcholine/cholesterol (DOPC)/chol) which is expected to be a uniform and disordered lipid mixture. Dye partitioning can be used to label and identify coexisting liquid-disordered (Ld), liquid-ordered (Lo), or gel-ordered (Lβ) molecules in a phase-separated leaflet. In the other leaflet of an asymmetric bilayer, dye partitioning also labels and identifies any induced order domains created by an Lo or gel phase domain in the apposed leaflet as well as the state of disorder of the lipid surrounding the induced ordered region. We explore a molecular level mechanism by which a disorder-prone uniform mixture of DOPC/chol = 0.8/0.2 would spontaneously separate into ordered regions coexisting with disordered regions. A redistribution of cholesterol seems to take place in the regions apposed to the ordered phase. The precision of the superposition of Lo or gel domains with their induced order domains implies a strong energy penalty that would be incurred if order/disorder interfaces were to form at the bilayer midplane. We conclude that the energy penalty for Lo/Ld or gel/Ld contact in the bilayer midplane is sufficient to drive disorderly DOPC/chol into an ordered state that reduces unfavorable order-disorder contacts at the bilayer midplane interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21717-21722
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 11 2023


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