2017 - Lipid phase separation in the presence of hydrocarbons in giant unilamellar vesicles
Vesicle Prep Pro publication in AIMS Biophysics (2017)
Bartelds R., Barnoud J., Boersma A.J., Marrink S.J., Poolman B.
AIMS Biophysics (2017) 4(4):528-542
Hydrophobic hydrocarbons are absorbed by cell membranes. The effects of hydrocarbons on biological membranes have been studied extensively, but less is known how these compounds affect lipid phase separation. Here, we show that pyrene and pyrene-like hydrocarbons can dissipate lipid domains in phase separating giant unilamellar vesicles at room temperature. In contrast, related aromatic compounds left the phase separation intact, even at high concentration. We hypothesize that this behavior is because pyrene and related compounds lack preference for either the liquid-ordered (Lo) or liquid-disordered (Ld) phase, while larger molecules prefer Lo, and smaller, less hydrophobic molecules prefer Ld. In addition, our data suggest that localization in the bilayer (depth) and the shape of the molecules might contribute to the effects of the aromatic compounds. Localization and shape of pyrene and related compounds are similar to cholesterol and therefore these molecules could behave as such.