Material properties of lipid microdomains: force-volume imaging study of the effect of cholesterol on lipid microdomain rigidity.
ABSTRACT: The effect of cholesterol (CHOL) on the material properties of supported lipid bilayers composed of lipid mixtures that mimic the composition of lipid microdomains was studied by force-volume (FV) imaging under near-physiological conditions. These studies were carried out with lipid mixtures of dioleoylphosphatidylcholine, dioleoylphosphatidylserine, and sphingomyelin. FV imaging enabled simultaneous topology and force measurements of sphingomyelin-rich domains (higher domain (HD)) and phospholipid-rich domains (lower domain (LD)), which allowed quantitative measurement of the force needed to puncture the lipid bilayer with or without CHOL. The force required to penetrate the various domains of the bilayer was probed using high- and low-ionic-strength buffers as a function of increasing amounts of CHOL in the bilayer. The progressive addition of CHOL also led to a decreasing height difference between HD and LD. FV imaging further demonstrated a lack of adhesion between the atomic force microscope tip and the HD or LD at loads below the breakthrough force. These results can lead to a better understanding of the role that CHOL plays in the mechanical properties of cellular membranes in modulating membrane rigidity, which has important implications for cellular mechanotransduction.
Project description:Phospholipids having a polyunsaturated acyl chain are abundant in biological membranes, but their behavior in lipid mixtures is difficult to study. Here we elucidate the nature of such mixtures with this report of the first ternary phase diagram containing the polyunsaturated lipid SDPC in mixtures of BSM/SDPC/Chol (brain sphingomyelin/1-stearoyl-2-docosahexaenoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine/cholesterol). These mixtures show coexisting macroscopic liquid-disordered (Ld) and liquid-ordered (Lo) phase separation, with phase boundaries determined by FRET and by fluorescence microscopy imaging of giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs). Surprisingly, SDPC mixes with BSM/Chol similarly to how DOPC and POPC mix with BSM/Chol. Notably, intermediate states are produced within the Ld+Lo liquid-liquid immiscibility region upon addition of fourth component POPC. These mixtures of BSM/SDPC/POPC/Chol exhibit nanoscopic Ld+Lo domains over a very large volume of composition space, possibly because Ld/Lo line tension is not high.
Project description:Biomembranes with as few as three lipid components can form coexisting liquid-disordered (Ld) and liquid-ordered (Lo) phases. In the coexistence region of Ld and Lo phases, the lipid mixtures 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC)/1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC)/chol or brain sphingomyelin (bSM)/DOPC/chol form micron-scale domains that are easily visualized with light microscopy. Although large domains are not observed in the mixtures DSPC/1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC)/chol and bSM/POPC/chol, lateral heterogeneity is nevertheless detected using techniques with nanometer-scale spatial resolution. We propose a simple and accessible method to measure domain sizes below optical resolution (?200 nm). We measured nanodomain size for the latter two mixtures by combining experimental Förster resonance energy transfer data with a Monte-Carlo-based analysis. We found a domain radius of 7.5-10 nm for DSPC/POPC/chol, similar to values obtained previously by neutron scattering, and ?5 nm for bSM/POPC/chol, slightly smaller than measurable by neutron scattering. These analyses also detect the domain-size transition that is observed by fluorescence microscopy in the four-component lipid mixture bSM/DOPC/POPC/chol. Accurate measurements of fluorescent-probe partition coefficients are especially important for the analysis; therefore, we exploit three different methods to measure the partition coefficient of fluorescent molecules between Ld and Lo phases.
Project description:Chemically simplified lipid mixtures are used here as models of the cell plasma membrane exoplasmic leaflet. In such models, phase separation and morphology transitions controlled by line tension in the liquid-disordered (Ld)?+?liquid-ordered (Lo) coexistence regime have been described . Here, we study two four-component lipid mixtures at different cholesterol fractions: brain sphingomyelin (BSM) or 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC)/1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC)/1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC)/cholesterol (Chol). On giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) display a nanoscopic-to-macroscopic transition of Ld?+?Lo phase domains as POPC is replaced by DOPC, and this transition also depends on the cholesterol fraction. Line tension decreases with increasing cholesterol mole fractions in both lipid mixtures. For the ternary BSM/DOPC/Chol mixture, the published phase diagram  requires a modification to show that when cholesterol mole fraction is >~0.33, coexisting phase domains become nanoscopic.
Project description:Cholesterol-rich, liquid-ordered (L(o)) domains are believed to be biologically relevant, and yet detailed knowledge about them, especially in live cells under physiological conditions, is elusive. Although these domains have been observed in model membranes, understanding cholesterol-lipid interactions at the molecular level, under controlled lipid mixing, remains a challenge. Further, although there are a number of fluorescent lipid analogs that partition into liquid-disordered (L(d)) domains, the number of such analogs with a high affinity for biologically relevant L(o) domains is limited. Here, we use a new Bodipy-labeled cholesterol (Bdp-Chol) derivative to investigate membrane fluidity, lipid order, and partitioning in various lipid phases in giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) as a model system. GUVs were prepared from mixtures of various molar fractions of dioleoylphosphatidylcholine, cholesterol, and egg sphingomyelin. The L(d) phase domains were also labeled with 1,1'-didodecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine (DiI-C(12)) for comparison. Two-photon fluorescence lifetime and anisotropy imaging of Bdp-Chol are sensitive to lipid phase domains in GUVs. The fluorescence lifetime of Bdp-Chol in liquid-disordered, single-phase GUVs is 5.50 +/- 0.08 ns, compared with 4.1 +/- 0.4 ns in the presence of DiI-C(12). The observed reduction of fluorescence lifetime is attributed to Förster resonance energy transfer between Bdp-Chol (a donor) and DiI-C(12) (an acceptor) with an estimated efficiency of 0.25 and donor-acceptor distance of 2.6 +/- 0.2 nm. These results also indicate preferential partitioning (K(p) = 1.88) of Bdp-Chol into the L(o) phase. One-photon, time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy of Bdp-Chol decays as a triexponential in the lipid bilayer with an average rotational diffusion coefficient, lipid order parameter, and membrane fluidity that are sensitive to phase domains. The translational diffusion coefficient of Bdp-Chol, as measured using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, is (7.4 +/- 0.3) x 10(-8) cm(2)/s and (5.0 +/- 0.2) x 10(-8) cm(2)/s in the L(d) and L(o) phases, respectively. Experimental translational/rotational diffusion coefficient ratios are compared with theoretical predictions using the hydrodynamic model (Saffman-Delbrück). The results suggest that Bdp-Chol is likely to form a complex with other lipid molecules during its macroscopic diffusion in GUV lipid bilayers at room temperature. Our integrated, multiscale results demonstrate the potential of this cholesterol analog for studying lipid-lipid interactions, lipid order, and membrane fluidity of biologically relevant L(o) domains.
Project description:Cholesterol is involved in endocytosis, exocytosis, and the assembly of sphingolipid/cholesterol-enriched domains, as has been demonstrated in both model membranes and living cells. In this work, we explored the influence of different cholesterol levels (5-40 mol%) on the morphology and nanomechanical stability of phase-segregated lipid bilayers consisting of dioleoylphosphatidylcholine/sphingomyelin/cholesterol (DOPC/SM/Chol) by means of atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging and force mapping. Breakthrough forces were consistently higher in the SM/Chol-enriched liquid-ordered domains (Lo) than in the DOPC-enriched fluid-disordered phase (Ld) at a series of loading rates. We also report the activation energies (DeltaEa) for the formation of an AFM-tip-induced fracture, calculated by a model for the rupture of molecular thin films. The obtained DeltaEa values agree remarkably well with reported values for fusion-related processes using other techniques. Furthermore, we observed that within the Chol range studied, the lateral organization of bilayers can be categorized into three distinct groups. The results are rationalized by fracture nanomechanics of a ternary phospholipid/sphingolipid/cholesterol mixture using correlated AFM-based imaging and force mapping, which demonstrates the influence of a wide range of cholesterol content on the morphology and nanomechanical stability of model bilayers. This provides fundamental insights into the role of cholesterol in the formation and stability of sphingolipid/cholesterol-enriched domains, as well as in membrane fusion.
Project description:Biophysical understanding of membrane domains requires accurate knowledge of their structural details and elasticity. We report on a global small angle x-ray scattering data analysis technique for coexisting liquid-ordered (Lo) and liquid-disordered (Ld) domains in fully hydrated multilamellar vesicles. This enabled their detailed analysis for differences in membrane thickness, area per lipid, hydrocarbon chain length, and bending fluctuation as demonstrated for two ternary mixtures (DOPC/DSPC/CHOL and DOPC/DPPC/CHOL) at different cholesterol concentrations. Lo domains were found to be ~10 Å thicker, and laterally up to 20 Å(2)/lipid more condensed than Ld domains. Their bending fluctuations were also reduced by ~65%. Increase of cholesterol concentration caused significant changes in structural properties of Ld, while its influence on Lo properties was marginal. We further observed that temperature-induced melting of Lo domains is associated with a diffusion of cholesterol to Ld domains and controlled by Lo/Ld thickness differences.
Project description:Lipid rafts and ceramide (Cer)-platforms are membrane domains that play an important role in several biological processes. Cer-platforms are commonly formed in the plasma membrane by the action of sphingomyelinase (SMase) upon hydrolysis of sphingomyelin (SM) within lipid rafts. The interplay among SMase activity, initial membrane properties (i.e., phase behavior and lipid lateral organization) and lipid composition, and the amount of product (Cer) generated, and how it modulates membrane properties were studied using fluorescence methodologies in model membranes. The activity of SMase was evaluated by following the hydrolysis of radioactive SM. It was observed that 1), the enzyme activity and extent of hydrolysis are strongly dependent on membrane physical properties but not on substrate content, and are higher in raft-like mixtures, i.e., mixtures with liquid-disordered/liquid-ordered phase separation; and 2), Cer-induced alterations are also dependent on membrane composition, specifically the cholesterol (Chol) content. In the lowest-Chol range, Cer segregates together with SM into small ( approximately 8.5 nm) Cer/SM-gel domains. With increasing Chol, the ability of Cer to recruit SM and form gel domains strongly decreases. In the high-Chol range, a Chol-enriched/SM-depleted liquid-ordered phase predominates. Together, these data suggest that in biological membranes, Chol in particular and raft domains in general play an important role in modulating SMase activity and regulating membrane physical properties by restraining Cer-induced alterations.
Project description:In this report, we applied site-specifically deuterated N-stearoylsphingomyelins (SSMs) to raft-exhibiting ternary mixtures containing SSM, 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC), and cholesterol (Chol) and successfully acquired deuterium quadrupole coupling profiles of SSM from liquid-ordered (Lo) and liquid-disordered (Ld) domains. To our knowledge, this is the first report that shows detailed lipid chain dynamics separately and simultaneously obtained from coexisting Lo and Ld domains. We also found that the quadrupole profile of the Lo phase in the ternary system was almost identical to that in the SSM-Chol binary mixture, suggesting that the order profile of the binary system is essentially applicable to more complicated membrane systems in terms of the acyl chain order. We also demonstrated that (2)H NMR spectroscopy, in combination with organic synthesis of deuterated components, could be used to reveal the accurate mole fractions of each component distributed in the Lo and Ld domains. As compared with the reported tie-line analysis of phase diagrams, the merit of our (2)H NMR analysis is that the domain-specific compositional fractions are directly attainable without experimental complexity and ambiguity. The accurate compositional distributions as well as lipid order profiles in ternary mixtures are relevant to understanding the molecular mechanism of lipid raft formation.
Project description:The lipid bilayer environment around membrane proteins strongly affects their structure and functions. Here, we aimed to study the fusion of proteoliposomes (PLs) derived from cultured cells with an artificial lipid bilayer membrane and the distribution of the PL components after the fusion. PLs, which were extracted as a crude membrane fraction from Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, formed isolated domains in a supported lipid bilayer (SLB), comprising phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), and cholesterol (Chol), after the fusion. Observation with a fluorescence microscope and an atomic force microscope showed that the membrane fusion occurred selectively at microdomains in the PC?+?PE?+?Chol-SLB, and that almost all the components of the PL were retained in the domain. PLs derived from human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK) cells also formed isolated domains in the PC?+?PE?+?Chol-SLB, but their fusion kinetics was different from that of the CHO-PLs. We attempted to explain the mechanism of the PL-SLB fusion and the difference between CHO- and HEK-PLs, based on a kinetic model. The domains that contained the whole cell membrane components provided environments similar to that of natural cell membranes, and were thus effective for studying membrane proteins using artificial lipid bilayer membranes.
Project description:A model biomimetic system for the study of protein reconstitution or drug interactions should include lipid rafts in the mixed lipid monolayer, since they are usually the domains embedding membrane proteins and peptides. Four model lipid films composed of three components: 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC), cholesterol (Chol) and sphingomyelin (SM) mixed in different molar ratios were proposed and investigated using surface pressure measurements and thermodynamic analysis of the monolayers at the air-water interface and imaged by Brewster angle microscopy. The ternary monolayers were transferred from the air-water onto the gold electrodes to form bilayer films and were studied for the first time by electrochemical methods: alternative current voltammetry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and imaged by atomic force microscopy. In excess of DOPC, the ternary systems remained too liquid for the raft region to be stable, while in the excess of cholesterol the layers were too solid. The layers with SM in excess lead to the formation of Chol:SM complexes but the amount of the fluid matrix was very low. The equimolar content of the three components lead to the formation of a stable and well-organized assembly with well-developed raft microdomains of larger thickness, surrounded by the more fluid part of the bilayer. The latter is proposed as a convenient raft model membrane for further physicochemical studies of interactions with drugs or pollutants or incorporation of membrane proteins.