Effects of cholesterol and unsaturated DOPC lipid on chain packing of saturated gel-phase DPPC bilayers

Thalia T. Mills, Juyang Huang, Gerald W. Feigenson, John F. Nagle

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Wide angle x-ray scattering (WAXS) from oriented lipid multilayers was used to study the effect of adding cholesterol (Choi) or 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine (DOPC) to gel-phase 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) bilayers. Small quantities (X < 0.10 mole fraction) of both molecules disrupt the tight packing of tilted chains of pure gel-phase DPPC, forming a more disordered, untilted phase. The addition of larger quantities of DOPC causes the sample to phase-separate into a gel phase, characterized by a narrow WAXS peak, and liquid disordered phase, characterized by wide, diffuse WAXS scattering. In contrast, two WAXS peaks indicative of two coexisting phases were not observed in Chol/DPPC mixtures (XChol = 0-07 to 0.40). Instead, Chol caused a gradual increase in the width of the WAXS peak, consistent with a gradual change from a more gel-like to a more liquid-like state rather than passing through a region of two phase coexistence. Our WAXS data include a huge amount of information. A new method of analysis suggests that WAXS data may provide definitive results relating to the disagreements between previously published phase diagrams for Chol/DPPC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-139
Number of pages14
JournalGeneral Physiology and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Chain packing
  • Cholesterol
  • Lipid bilayers
  • Liquid ordered
  • Phase diagram


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