Membrane lateral compressibility determined by NMR and x-ray diffraction: effect of acyl chain polyunsaturation
The elastic area compressibility modulus, Ka, of lamellar liquid crystalline bilayers was determined by a new experimental approach using 2H-NMR order parameters of lipid hydrocarbon chains together with lamellar repeat spacings measured by x-ray diffraction. The combination of NMR and x-ray techniques yields accurate determination of lateral area per lipid molecule. Samples of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated phospholipids were equilibrated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) 20,000 solutions in water at concentrations from 0 to 55 wt % PEG at 30 degrees C. This procedure is equivalent to applying 0 to 8 dyn/cm lateral pressure to the bilayers. The resulting reductions in area per lipid were measured with a resolution of +/-0.2 A2 and the fractional area decrease was proportional to applied lateral pressure. For 1,2-dimyristoyl(d54)-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, 1-stearoyl(d35)-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (SOPC-d35), and 1-stearoyl(d35)-2-docosahexaenoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (SDPC-d35) cross-sectional areas per molecule in excess water of 59.5, 61.4, and 69.2 A2 and bilayer elastic area compressibility moduli of 141, 221, and 121 dyn/cm were determined, respectively. Combining NMR and x-ray results enables the determination of compressibility differences between saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbon chains. In mixed-chain SOPC-d35 both chains have similar compressibility moduli; however, in mixed-chain polyunsaturated SDPC-d35, the saturated stearic acid chain appears to be far less compressible than the polyunsaturated docosahexaenoic acid chain.