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Concept: Langmuir


Cholesterol has been suggested to play a role in stable vesicle formation by adjusting the molecular packing of the vesicular bilayer. To explore the mechanisms involved in adjusting the bilayer structure by cholesterol, the molecular packing behavior in a mimic outer layer of cationic dialkyldimethylammonium bromide (DXDAB)/cholesterol vesicular bilayer was investigated by the Langmuir monolayer approach with infrared reflection-absorption spectroscopy (IRRAS). The results indicated that the addition of cholesterol in the DXDAB Langmuir monolayers not only restrained the desorption of the DXDAB with short hydrocarbon chains, such as ditetradecyldimethylammonium bromide or dihexadecyldimethylammonium bromide, into the aqueous phase but also induced a condensing effect on the DXDAB monolayers. At a liquid-expanded (LE) state, the ordering effect of cholesterol accompanying the condensing effect occurred in the mixed DXDAB/cholesterol monolayers due to the tendency of maximizing hydrocarbon chain contact between cholesterol and the neighboring hydrocarbon chains. However, for the mixed monolayers containing the DXDAB with long hydrocarbon chains, such as dioctadecyldimethylammonium bromide (DODAB), the disordering effect of cholesterol took place at a liquid-condensed (LC) state. This was related to the molecular structure of cholesterol and hydrocarbon chain length of DODAB. The rigid sterol ring of cholesterol hindered the portion of neighboring hydrocarbon chains from motion. However, the flexible alkyl side-chain of cholesterol along with the corresponding portion of neighboring hydrocarbon chains formed a fluidic region, counteracting the enhanced conformational order induced by the sterol ring of cholesterol. Furthermore, the long hydrocarbon chains of DODAB possessed a more pronounced motion freedom, resulting in a more disordered packing of the monolayers.

Concepts: Hydrocarbon, Physical chemistry, Steroid, Molecular geometry, Lipid bilayer, Infrared spectroscopy, Monolayer, Langmuir


We have studied interfacial compressibility and lateral organization in monolayer configurations of total (squalene containing) and polar (squalene-devoid) lipid extracts of Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1, an extremely halophilic archaeon. Pressure-area isotherms derived from Langmuir experiments reveal that packing characteristics and elastic compressibility are strongly influenced by the presence of squalene in the total lipid extract. In conjunction with control experiments using mixtures of DPhPC and squalene, our results establish that the presence of squalene significantly extends elastic area compressibility of total lipid extracts, suggesting it has a role in facilitating tighter packing of archaeal lipid mixtures. Moreover, we find that squalene also influences spatial organization in archaeal membranes. Epifluorescence and atomic force microscopy characterization of Langmuir monolayers transferred onto solid hydrophilic substrates reveal unusual domain morphology. Individual domains of microscopic dimensions (as well as their extended networks) exhibiting a peculiar bowl-like topography are evident in atomic force microscopy images. The tall rims outlining individual domains indicates that squalene accumulates at the domain periphery in a manner similar to the accumulation of cholesterol at domain boundaries in their mixtures with phospholipids. Taken together, results presented here support the notion that squalene plays a role in modulating molecular packing and lateral organization (i.e., domain formation) in the membranes of archaea analogous to that of cholesterol in eukaryotic membranes.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Eukaryote, Lipid bilayer, Domain, Monolayer, Langmuir, Halobacterium


In the companion paper to this work, we described development of a new type of hydrogen exchange (HX) mass spectrometry (MS) measurement that integrates Langmuir monolayers. With Langmuir monolayers, the lipid packing density can be reproducibly controlled and changed as desired. Analysis of HX in proteins that may undergo conformational changes as a function of lipid packing (for example, conformational rearrangements after insertion into a lipid layer) are then possible. We previously used neutron reflection to characterize just such a conformational change in the myristoylated HIV-1 Nef protein (myrNef): at high lipid packing density, myrNef could not insert into the lipids and maintained a compact conformation adjacent to the monolayer, whereas at lower lipid packing density, myrNef was able to insert N-terminal arm residues, causing displacement of the core domain away from the monolayer. In order to locate where conformation may have been altered by lipid association, we applied the HX MS Langmuir monolayer method to myrNef associated with monolayers of packing densities identical to those used for the prior neutron reflection measurements. The results show that the N-terminal region and the C-terminal unstructured loop undergo conformational changes when associated with a low density lipid monolayer. The results are not consistent with the hypothesis of myrNef dimerization upon membrane association in the absence of other myrNef binding partners. The HX MS Langmuir monolayer method provides new and meaningful information for myrNef that helps explain necessary conformational changes required for function at the membrane.

Concepts: Protein, Protein structure, Physical chemistry, Change, Lipid bilayer, Monolayer, Hydrogen-deuterium exchange, Langmuir


Cyclosporin A (CsA), a hydrophobic peptide, mainly known for its immunosuppressant properties, has shown a broad range of biological activities, including antimalarial action. Since CsA was found to be active on membrane level, it was subjected for investigations involving membrane models. Our former studies on interactions between CsA and different membrane lipids using Langmuir monolayer technique indicated its affinity for sphingomyelin (SM). Inspired by this finding we have extended our experiments on multicomponent systems and performed systematic investigations of CsA behavior towards artificial membranes containing different mutual proportion of sphingomyelin and cholesterol (Chol). Langmuir monolayer results have been complemented with in-situ films structure visualization applying Brewster angle microscopy (BAM) and, after films transfer onto solid support, atomic force microscopy (AFM). Our results show that cyclosporin A introduced to SM:Chol mixed monolayers distributes differently, depending on SM-to-Chol proportion. In raft-mimicking (2:1) stoichiometry, even distribution of the drug within SM:Chol matrix was observed. However, in SM:Chol model membranes of different proportion (3:1; 1:1; 1:2), containing either the excess of unbound sphingomyelin or cholesterol in addition to model lipid raft domains, introduction of CsA induced a phase separation.

Concepts: Cell membrane, Lipid bilayer, Ciclosporin, Monolayer, Nonribosomal peptide, Langmuir


In vitro membrane model systems are used to dissect complex biological phenomena under controlled unadulterated conditions. In this context, lipid monolayers are a powerful tool to particularly study the influence of lipid packing on the behavior of membrane proteins. Here, monolayers deposited in miniaturized fixed area-chambers, which require only minute amounts of protein, were used and shown to faithfully reproduce the characteristics of Langmuir monolayers. This assay is ideally suited to be combined with single-molecule sensitive fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) to characterize diffusion dynamics. Our results confirm the influence of lipid packing on lipid mobility and validate the use of FCS as an alternative to conventional surface pressure measurements for characterizing the monolayer. Furthermore, we demonstrate the effect of lipid density on the diffusional behavior of membrane-bound components. We exploit the sensitivity of FCS to characterize protein interactions with the lipid monolayer in a regime in which the monolayer physical properties are not altered. To demonstrate the potential of our approach, we analyzed the diffusion behavior of objects of different nature, ranging from a small peptide to a large DNA-based nanostructure. Moreover, in this work we quantify the surface viscosity of lipid monolayers. We present a detailed strategy for the conduction of point FCS experiments on lipid monolayers, which is the first step toward extensive studies of protein-monolayer interactions.

Concepts: Protein, Spectroscopy, Membrane protein, Physical chemistry, Lipid bilayer, Integral membrane protein, Monolayer, Langmuir


The aim of the present study was to investigate the interfacial behaviour of model biomembranes in the presence of β-carotene (βC). The Langmuir monolayer technique was used to form the mixed lipid film at the air/water interface. Using the surface pressure-area isotherms, the surface potential-area curves and the Brewster angle microscopy the nature of interactions between carotenoid and lipid components of the monolayers was investigated. The results were obtained for complex models of the lipid bilayer composed of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) and cholesterol (CHOL). It was found that β-carotene affected the membrane stability, fluidity and rigidity, however this influence varied with the DPPC/CHOL ratio. The membrane permeability which is significant for biological functions was found to be affected by the presence of β-carotene in the membrane. The morphology of mixed films visualized by Brewster angle microscopy was similar for DPPC/CHOL and DPPC/CHOL/βC films indicating incorporation of carotenoid into the film. In contrary to previous reports for individual lipids, we did not observed the aggregation of βC in the mixed lipid monolayer. Moreover, from dilatational rheology experiment we concluded about the significant role of β-carotene in modulation of the elastic behaviour of the membrane, especially in physiologically significant surface pressure, i.e. at π = 30 mN/m.

Concepts: Cell membrane, Organelle, Fluid dynamics, Lipid, Angle, Lipid bilayer, Monolayer, Langmuir


A novel series of amphiphilic cobalt-cage derivatives (ACCD), bearing a diaza-crown bridge and varying alkyl chains, facilitate ion transport across biomembrane models via self-aggregation. In this study, compression isotherm analyses and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used to assess the interactions of these amphiphiles with Langmuir monolayers of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) in order to elucidate electrostatic and steric contributions to ion transport. The stability and compressibility of DPPC monolayers are disrupted by ACCD molecules with short (C12) alkyl chains. These top-heavy amphiphiles (large cone angles) create voids at the interface of the hydrophobic/aqueous layer leading to monolayer expansion and packing efficiency of the aliphatic chains is disrupted. Long-tailed analogues (C16, C18) are cohesively integrated into DPPC monolayers due to their smaller cone angles at the interfacial region and increased hydrocarbon compatibility in the hydrophobic region. Thermodynamic data indicate the formation of electrostatic complexes between DPPC and longer-tailed amphiphiles consistent with AFM observations of aggregate structures at the corresponding concentrations.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Chemical properties, Chemistry, Atom, Physical chemistry, Monolayer, Langmuir


The influence of the chain composition on the physical-chemical properties will be discussed for five transfection lipids containing the same lysine-based head group. For this purpose, the chain composition will be gradually varied from saturated tetradecyl (C14:0) and hexadecyl (C16:0) chains to longer but unsaturated oleyl (C18:1) chains with double bonds in the cis configuration. In this work, we investigated the lipids as Langmuir monolayers at the air-water-interface in the absence and presence of calf thymus DNA applying different techniques such as infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (IRRAS) and grazing incidence X-ray diffraction (GIXD). The replacement of saturated tetradecyl (C14:0) and hexadecyl (C16:0) chains by unsaturated oleyl (C18:1) chains increases the fluidity of the lipid monolayer: TH10 < TT10 < OH10 < OT10 < OO10 resulting in a smaller packing density. TH10 forms the stiffest and OO10 the most fluid monolayer in this structure-property study. OO10 has a higher protonation degree compared to the saturated lipids TT10 and TH10 as well as to the hybrids OT10 and OH10 because of a better accessibility of the amine groups. Depending on the bulk pH, different scenarios of DNA coupling to the lipid monolayers have been proposed.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Amine, Molecular biology, Diffraction, X-ray, Monolayer, Langmuir


Huntington disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disease caused by the expansion beyond a critical threshold of a polyglutamine (polyQ) tract near the N-terminus of the huntingtin (htt) protein. Expanded polyQ promotes the formation of a variety of oligomeric and fibrillar aggregates of htt that accumulate into the hallmark proteinaceous inclusion bodies associated with HD. htt is also highly associated with numerous cellular and subcellular membranes that contain a variety of lipids. As lipid homeostasis and metabolism abnormalities are observed in HD patients, we investigated how varying both the sphingomyelin (SM) and ganglioside (GM1) contents modifies the interactions between htt and lipid membranes. SM composition is altered in HD, and GM1 has been shown to have protective effects in animal models of HD. A combination of Langmuir trough monolayer techniques, vesicle permeability and binding assays, and in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used to directly monitor the interaction of a model, synthetic htt peptide and a full-length htt-exon1 recombinant protein with model membranes comprised of total brain lipid extract (TBLE) and varying amounts of exogenously added SM or GM1. The addition of either SM or GM1 decreased htt insertion into the lipid monolayers. However, TBLE vesicles with an increased SM content were more susceptible to htt-induced permeabilization, whereas GM1 had no effect on permeablization. Pure TBLE bilayers and TBLE bilayers enriched with GM1 developed regions of roughened, granular morphologies upon exposure to htt-exon1, but plateau-like domains with a smoother appearance formed in bilayers enriched with SM. Oligomeric aggregates were observed on all bilayer systems regardless of induced morphology. Collectively, these observations suggest that the lipid composition and its subsequent effects on membrane material properties strongly influence htt binding and aggregation on lipid membranes.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Metabolism, Cell membrane, Lipid, Huntington's disease, Lipid bilayer, Langmuir


The morphology of surfactant monolayers is typically studied on the planar surface of a Langmuir trough, even though most physiological interfaces are curved at the micrometer scale. Here, we show that, as the radius of a clinical lung surfactant monolayer-covered bubble decreases to ∼100 µm, the monolayer morphology changes from dispersed circular liquid-condensed (LC) domains in a continuous liquid-expanded (LE) matrix to a continuous LC linear mesh separating discontinuous LE domains. The curvature-associated morphological transition cannot be readily explained by current liquid crystal theories based on isotropic domains. It is likely due to the anisotropic bending energy of the LC phase of the saturated phospholipids that are common to all natural and clinical lung surfactants. This continuous LC linear mesh morphology is also present on bilayer vesicles in solution. Surfactant adsorption and the dilatational modulus are also strongly influenced by the changes in morphology induced by interfacial curvature. The changes in morphology and dynamics may have physiological consequences for lung stability and function as the morphological transition occurs at alveolar dimensions.

Concepts: Function, Emulsion, Surfactant, Solution, Pulmonary surfactant, Monolayer, Phases of matter, Langmuir