Membrane fusion promoters and inhibitors have contrasting effects on lipid bilayer structure and undulations.
It has been established that the fusion of both biological membranes and phospholipid bilayers can be modulated by altering their lipid composition (Chernomordik et al., 1995 .J. Membr. Biol. 146:3). In particular, when added exogenously between apposing membranes, monomyristoylphosphatidylcholine (MMPC) inhibits membrane fusion, whereas glycerol monoleate (GMO), oleic acid (OA), and arachidonic acid (AA) promote fusion. This present study uses x-ray diffraction to investigate the effects of MMPC, GMO, OA, and AA on the bending and stability of lipid bilayers when bilayers are forced together with applied osmotic pressure. The addition of 10 and 30 mol% MMPC to egg phosphatidylcholine (EPC) bilayers maintains the bilayer structure, even when the interbilayer fluid spacing is reduced to approximately 3 A, and increases the repulsive pressure between bilayers so that the fluid spacing in excess water increases by 5 and 15 A, respectively. Thus MMPC increases the undulation pressure, implying that the addition of MMPC promotes out-of-plane bending and decreases the adhesion energy between bilayers. In contrast, the addition of GMO has minor effects on the undulation pressure; 10 and 50 mol% GMO increase the fluid spacing of EPC in excess water by 0 and 2 A, respectively. However, x-ray diffraction indicates that, at small interbilayer separations, GMO, OA, or AA converts the bilayer to a structure containing hexagonally packed scattering units approximately 50 A in diameter. Thus GMO, OA, or AA destabilizes bilayer structure as apposing bilayers are brought into contact, which could contribute to their role in promoting membrane fusion.
McIntosh, TJ; Kulkarni, KG; Simon, SA
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