Lipid bilayers: thermodynamics, structure, fluctuations, and interactions
This article, adapted from our acceptance speech of the Avanti Award in Lipids at the 47th Biophysical Society meeting in San Antonio, 2003, summarizes over 30 years of research in the area of lipid bilayers. Beginning with a theoretical model of the phase transition (J.F.N.), we have proceeded experimentally using dilatometry and density centrifugation to study volume, differential scanning calorimetry to study heat capacity, and X-ray scattering techniques to study structure of lipid bilayers as a function of temperature. Electron density profiles of the gel and ripple phases have been obtained as well as profiles from several fluid phase lipids, which lead to many structural results that compliment molecular dynamics simulations from other groups. Using the theory of liquid crystallography plus oriented lipid samples, we are the first group to obtain both material parameters (KC and B) associated with the fluctuations in fluid phase lipids. This allows us to use fully hydrated lipid samples, as in vivo, to obtain the structure.