Molecular dynamics studies of the molecular structure and interactions of cholesterol superlattices and random domains in an unsaturated phosphatidylcholine bilayer membrane

Qing Zhu, Kwan H. Cheng, Mark W. Vaughn

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23 Scopus citations

Abstract

The effect of the molecular organization of lipid components on the properties of the bilayer membrane has been a topic of increasing interest. Several experimental and theoretical studies have suggested that cholesterol is not randomly distributed in the fluid-state lipid bilayer but forms nanoscale domains. Several cholesterol-enriched nanodomain structures have been proposed, including rafts, regular or maze arrays, complexes, and superlattices. At present, the molecular mechanisms by which lipid composition influences the formation and stability of lipid nanodomains remain unclear. In this study, we have used molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate the effects of the molecular organization of cholesterol-superlattice versus random-on the structure of and interactions between lipids and water in lipid bilayers of chilesterol and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoylphosphatidylcholine (cholesterol/POPC) at a fixed cholesterol mole fraction of 0.40. On the basis of four independent replicates of 200-ns MD simulations for a superlattice or random bilayer, statistically significant differences were observed in the lipid structural parameters, area per lipid, density profile, and acyl chain order profile, as well as the hydrogen bonding between various pairs (POPC and water, cholesterol and water, and POPC and cholesterol). The time evolution of the radial distribution of the cholesterol hydroxy oxygen suggests that the lateral distribution of cholesterol in the superlattice bilayer is more stable than that in the random bilayer. Furthermore, the results indicate that a relatively long simulation time, more than 100 ns, is required for these two-component bilayers to reach equilibrium and that this time is influenced by the initial lateral distribution of lipid components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11021-11031
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Volume111
Issue number37
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 20 2007

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