- Rawicz, W. and Olbrich, K.C. and McIntosh, T. and Needham, D. and Evans, E., Effect of chain length and unsaturation on elasticity of lipid bilayers,
Biophys. J. (USA), vol. 79 no. 1
pp. 328 - 39 .
(last updated on 2007/04/06)
Micropipette pressurization of giant bilayer vesicles was used to measure both elastic bending kc and area stretch KA moduli of fluid-phase phosphatidylcholine (PC) membranes. Twelve diacyl PCs were chosen: eight with two 18 carbon chains and degrees of unsaturation from one double bond (C18:1/0, C18:0/1) to six double bonds per lipid (diC18:3), two with short saturated carbon chains (diC13:0, diC14:0), and two with long unsaturated carbon chains (diC20:4, diC22:1). Bending moduli were derived from measurements of apparent expansion in vesicle surface area under very low tensions (0.001-0.5 mN/m), which is dominated by smoothing of thermal bending undulations. Area stretch moduli were obtained from measurements of vesicle surface expansion under high tensions (>0.5 mN/m), which involve an increase in area per molecule and a small-but important-contribution from smoothing of residual thermal undulations. The direct stretch moduli varied little (<±10%) with either chain unsaturation or length about a mean of 243 mN/m. On the other hand, the bending moduli of saturated/monounsaturated chain PCs increased progressively with chain length from 0.56×10-19 J for diC13:0 to 1.2×10-19 J for diC22:1. However, quite unexpectedly for longer chains, the bending moduli dropped precipitously to ~0.4×10-19 J when two or more cis double bonds were present in a chain (C18:0/2, diC18:2, diC18:3, diC20:4). Given nearly constant area stretch moduli, the variations in bending rigidity with chain length and polyunsaturation Implied significant variations in thickness. To test this hypothesis, peak-to-peak headgroup thicknesses hpp of bilayers were obtained from X-ray diffraction of multibilayer arrays at controlled relative humidities. For saturated/monounsaturated chain bilayers, the distances hpp increased smoothly from diC13:0 to diC22:1 as expected. Moreover, the distances and elastic properties correlated well with a polymer brush model of the bilayer that specifies that the elastic ratio (kcKA)1/2=(hpp-h0)/24, where h0≈1 nm accounts for separation of the headgroup peaks from the deformable hydrocarbon region. However, the elastic ratios and thicknesses for diC18:2, diC18:3, and diC20:4 fell into a distinct group below the correlation, which showed that poly-cis unsaturated chain bilayers are thinner and more flexible than saturated/monounsaturated chain bilayers
biomechanics;bonds (chemical);humidity;lipid bilayers;molecular biophysics;X-ray diffraction;