Differential scanning calorimetry of chain-melting phase transitions of N-acylphosphatidylethanolamines

Swamy, M. J. ; Marsh, D. ; Ramakrishnan, M. (1997) Differential scanning calorimetry of chain-melting phase transitions of N-acylphosphatidylethanolamines Biophysical Journal, 73 (5). pp. 2556-2564. ISSN 0006-3495

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Official URL: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/retrieve/pii/S0006349...

Related URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(97)78284-5


Phosphatidylethanolamines in which the polar headgroup is N-acylated by a long-chain fatty acid (N-acyl PEs) are present in many plasma membranes under normal conditions, and their content increases dramatically in response to membrane stress in a variety of organisms. The thermotropic phase behavior of a homologous series of saturated N-acyl PEs, in which the length of the N-acyl chain is equal to that of the O-acyl chains attached at the glycerol backbone, has been investigated by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). All fully hydrated N-acyl PEs with even chain lengths from C-12 to C-18 exhibit sharp endothermic chain-melting phase transitions in the absence of salt and in 1 M NaCl. Cooperative chain-melting is demonstrated directly by the temperature dependence of the electron spin resonance spectra from probe phospholipids bearing a spin label group in the acyl chain. The calorimetric transition enthalpy and the transition entropy obtained from DSC depend approximately linearly on the chain length with incremental values per CH2 group that exceed those of normal diacyl phosphatidylethanolamines, but to an extent that underrepresents the additional N-acyl chain. A thermodynamic model is constructed for the chain-length dependences and end effects of the calorimetric quantities, which includes a deficit proportional to the difference in O-acyl and N-acyl chain lengths for nonmatched chains, as is found and justified structurally for mixed-chain diacyl phospholipids. From data on the chain-length dependence of N-acyl diC16PEs, it is then deduced that the N-acyl chains are less well packed than the O-acyl chains and, from the data on the matched-chain N-acyl PEs, that the O-acyl chain packing is similar to that in normal diacyl PEs. The gel-to-fluid phase transition temperatures of the N-acyl PEs in the absence of salt are practically the same as those of the normal diacyl PEs of the corresponding chain lengths, although the transition enthalpies and entropies are appreciably greater, indicating entropy-enthalpy compensation. In 1 M NaCl, the transition temperatures are 3–4.5 degrees higher than in the absence of salt, representing the contribution of the electrostatic surface potential of the N-acyl PEs.

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