Formation of biological membranes

Abstract

The amphiphilic property of phospholipids drives the spontaneous formation of various molecular aggregates in response to their surrounding environment. In this study the concentration of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) lipids in water was varied in order to investigate the naturally occurring arrangements over time, and specifically the propensity to form monolayers on the water-vacuum interface. Several forms of aggregates developed during the 1000 ns long simulations, including monolayers and spherical- as well as cylindrical micelles. In all simulations the majority of lipids remained in the bulk and with varying sized patches of monolayers on the 8×8 nm surfaces formed. During a large portion of time the micelles kept close to the surface without ever opening up. By constructing and simulating 245 new unique systems with one of the micelles placed close to the surface, it could be confirmed that the possibility of these lipids forming a monolayer become greatly enhanced when no other lipids are present on the surface. Once a micelle had started to open up, it never reversed back to its original form but transformed, or could be expected to transform, into monolayers in all cases. In the concentration simulations it was furthermore found that a single lipid could be attached to the surface monolayer as well as a micelle simultaneously for over 400 ns. Not a single instance could be found where a lipid with both its tails on the surface travelled back to the bulk, in any of the simulations performed

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Last time updated on 03/09/2020

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