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Vesicle Origami and the Influence of Cholesterol on Lipid Packing

Radu Tanasescu, Martin A. Lanz, Dennis Mueller, Stephanie Tassler, Takashi Ishikawa, Renate Reiter, Gerald Brezesinski, and Andreas Zumbuehl. Langmuir 32 (2016) 4896−4903

The artificial phospholipid Pad-PC-Pad was analyzed in 2D (monolayers at the air/water interface) and 3D (aqueous lipid dispersions) systems. In the gel phase, the two leaflets of a Pad-PC-Pad bilayer interdigitate completely, and the hydrophobic bilayer region has a thickness comparable to the length of a single phospholipid acyl chain. This leads to a stiff membrane with no spontaneous curvature. Forced into a vesicular structure, Pad-PC-Pad has faceted geometry, and in its extreme form, tetrahedral vesicles were found as predicted a decade ago. Above the main transition temperature, a noninterdigitated Lα phase with fluid chains has been observed. The addition of cholesterol leads to a slight decrease of the main transition temperature and a gradual decrease in the transition enthalpy until the transition vanishes at 40 mol % cholesterol in the mixture. Additionally, cholesterol pulls the chains apart, and a noninterdigitated gel phase is observed. In monolayers, cholesterol has an ordering effect on liquid-expanded phases and disorders condensed phases. The wavenumbers of the methylene stretching vibration indicate the formation of a liquid-ordered phase in mixtures with 40 mol % cholesterol.

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