Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) is notoriously difficult to incorporate into model membrane systems, such as fluid supported lipid bilayers (SLBs), at high concentrations because of its intrinsic negative curvature. Using fluorescence-based techniques, we demonstrate that having fewer sites of unsaturation in the lipid tails leads to high-quality SLBs because these lipids help to minimize the curvature. Moreover, shorter saturated chains can help maintain the membranes in the fluid phase. Using these two guidelines, we find that up to 70 mol % PE can be incorporated into SLBs at room temperature and up to 90 mol % PE can be incorporated at 37 °C. Curiously, conditions under which three-dimensional tubules project outward from the planar surface as well as conditions under which domain formation occurs can be found. We have employed these model membrane systems to explore the ability of Ni2+ to bind to PE. It was found that this transition metal ion binds 1000-fold tighter to PE than to phosphatidylcholine lipids. In the future, this platform could be exploited to monitor the binding of other transition metal ions or the binding of antimicrobial peptides. It could also be employed to explore the physical properties of PE-containing membranes, such as phase domain behavior and intermolecular hydrogen bonding.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces