Phase transitions in phospholipid vesicles Fluorescence polarization and permeability measurements concerning the effect of temperature and cholesterol
We have studied the solid to liquid-crystalline phase transition of sonicated vesicles of dipalmitoylphosphatidylglycerol and dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine. The transition was studied by both fluorescence polarization of perylene embedded in the vesicles, and by the efflux rate of trapped 22Na+. Fluorescence polarization generally decreases with temperature, showing an inflection in the region 32–42°C with a mid-point of approximately 37.5 °C. On the other hand, the perylene fluorescence intensity increases abruptly in this region. To explain this result, we have proposed that, for where is the transition temperature, perylene is excluded from the hydrocarbon interior of the membranes, whereas, this probe may be accommodated in the membrane interior to a large extent. The self-diffusion rates of 22Na+ through dipalmitoylphosphatidylglycerol vesicles exhibit a complex dependence on temperature. There is an initial large increase in diffusion rates (approximately 100-fold) between 30 and 38 °C, followed by a decrease (approximately 4-fold) between 38 and 48 °C. A monotonic increase is then observed at temperatures higher than 48 °C. The local maximum of 22Na+ self-diffusion rates at approximately 38 °C coincides with the mid-point of phase transition as detected by changes in fluorescence polarization of perylene with the same vesicles. Vesicles composed of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine show the same general behavior in terms of 22Na+ self-diffusion rates at different temperatures, except that the local maximum occurs at approximately 42 °C. The temperature dependence of the permeability and the appearance of a local maximum at the phase transition region could be explained in terms of a domain structure within the plane of the membranes. This explanation is based on the possibility that boundary regions between liquid and solid domains would exhibit relatively high permeability to 22Na+. Mixed vesicles composed of equimolar amounts of dipalmitoyl phospholipids and cholesterol show no abrupt changes in the temperature dependence of either perylene fluorescence polarization or 22Na+ diffusion rate measurements. This is taken to indicate the absence of agross phase transition in the presence of cholesterol.