Multifrequency AFM reveals lipid membrane mechanical properties and the effect of cholesterol in modulating viscoelasticity.
ABSTRACT: The physical properties of lipid bilayers comprising the cell membrane occupy the current spotlight of membrane biology. Their traditional representation as a passive 2D fluid has gradually been abandoned in favor of a more complex picture: an anisotropic time-dependent viscoelastic biphasic material, capable of transmitting or attenuating mechanical forces that regulate biological processes. In establishing new models, quantitative experiments are necessary when attempting to develop suitable techniques for dynamic measurements. Here, we map both the elastic and viscous properties of the model system 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) lipid bilayers using multifrequency atomic force microscopy (AFM), namely amplitude modulation-frequency modulation (AM-FM) AFM imaging in an aqueous environment. Furthermore, we investigate the effect of cholesterol (Chol) on the DPPC bilayer in concentrations from 0 to 60%. The AM-AFM quantitative maps demonstrate that at low Chol concentrations, the lipid bilayer displays a distinct phase separation and is elastic, whereas at higher Chol concentration, the bilayer appears homogenous and exhibits both elastic and viscous properties. At low-Chol contents, the Estorage modulus (elastic) dominates. As the Chol insertions increases, higher energy is dissipated; and although the bilayer stiffens (increase in Estorage), the viscous component dominates (Eloss). Our results provide evidence that the lipid bilayer exhibits both elastic and viscous properties that are modulated by the presence of Chol, which may affect the propagation (elastic) or attenuation (viscous) of mechanical signals across the cell membrane.
Project description:Cell lipid membranes are the primary site of irreversible injury during freezing/thawing and cryopreservation of cells, but the underlying causes remain unknown. Here, we probe the effect of cooling from 20?°C to 0?°C on the structure and mechanical properties of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) bilayers using atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging and AFM-based nanoindentation in a liquid environment. The Young’s modulus of elasticity (E) at each temperature for DPPC was obtained at different ionic strengths. Both at 20?mM and 150?mM NaCl, E of DPPC bilayers increases exponentially –as expected–as the temperature is lowered between 20?°C and 5?°C, but at 0?°C E drops from the values measured at 5?°C. Our results support the hypothesis that mechanical weakening of the bilayer at 0?°C is produced by structural changes at the lipid-fluid interface.
Project description:This study aims to investigate the interactions appearing when the beta-2-glycoprotein-1 binds to a lipid bilayer. The inter- and intra-molecular forces acting between the two macromolecular systems have been investigated using a molecular dynamics simulation method. The importance of water bridges has also been addressed. Additionally, the viscoelastic response of the bilayer has been studied. In detail, the (saturated-chain) 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) and (unsaturated-chain) 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (POPE) bilayers have been chosen to test their behavior near the protein. Both of the lipids have a polar head but different chemical structures and are similar to the main phospholipids present in the synovial fluid. This study is meaningful for further explaining the worsening friction properties in articular cartilage, as the inactivation of phospholipid bilayers by beta-2-glycoprotein-1 is believed to be a cause of the destruction of cartilage in most rheumatic diseases and osteoarthritis. It was found that the protein binds stronger to the DPPC bilayer than to the POPE, but in both cases, it has the potential to change the local bilayer stability. Nevertheless, the binding forces are placed within a small area (only a few lipids contribute to the binding, creating many interactions). However, together, they are not stronger than the covalent bonds between C-O, thus, potentially, it is possible to push the lipids into the bilayer but detaching the lipids' heads from the tail is not possible. Additionally, the protein causes water displacement from the vicinity of the bilayer, and this may be a contributor to the instability of the bilayer (disrupting the water bridges needed for the stabilization of the bilayer, especially in the case of DPPC where the heads are not so well stabilized by H-bonds as they are in POPE). Moreover, it was found that the diffusivity of lipids in the DPPC bilayer bound to the protein is significantly different from the diffusivity of the ones which are not in contact with the protein. The POPE bilayer is stiffer due to intramolecular interactions, which are stronger than in the DPPC; thus, the viscous to elastic effects in the POPE case are more significant than in the case of the DPPC. It is, therefore, harder to destabilize the POPE bilayer than the DPPC one.
Project description:Cytolytic protein (Cyt) is a member of insecticidal proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis. Cyt protein has activity against insect cells and mammalian cells, which differ in lipid and cholesterol composition. This study presents the lipid binding behavior of Cyt2Aa2 protein on model membranes containing different levels of cholesterol content by combining Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation (QCM-D) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). QCM-D results revealed that cholesterol enhances the binding rate of Cyt2Aa2 protein onto lipid bilayers. In addition, the thicker lipid bilayer was observed for the highest cholesterol content. These results were confirmed by AFM. The analysis of protein surface coverage as a function of time showed a slower process for 5:0 and 5:0.2 (POPC:Chol) ratios than for 5:1 and 5:2 (POPC:Chol) ratios. Significantly, the Cyt2Aa2-lipid binding behavior and the protein?lipid layer were different for the 5:3 (POPC:Chol) ratio. Furthermore, AFM images revealed a transformation of Cyt2Aa2/lipid layer structure from strip pattern to ring shape structures (which showed a strong repulsion with AFM tip). In summary, cholesterol increases the binding rate and alters the lipid binding behavior of Cyt2Aa2 protein, although it is not required for Cyt2Aa2 protein binding onto lipid bilayers.
Project description:Artificial membranes are models for biological systems and are important for applications. We introduce a dry two-step self-assembly method consisting of the high-vacuum evaporation of phospholipid molecules over silicon, followed by a subsequent annealing step in air. We evaporate dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) molecules over bare silicon without the use of polymer cushions or solvents. High-resolution ellipsometry and AFM temperature-dependent measurements are performed in air to detect the characteristic phase transitions of DPPC bilayers. Complementary AFM force-spectroscopy breakthrough events are induced to detect single- and multi-bilayer formation. These combined experimental methods confirm the formation of stable non-hydrated supported lipid bilayers with phase transitions gel to ripple at 311.5 ± 0.9 K, ripple to liquid crystalline at 323.8 ± 2.5 K and liquid crystalline to fluid disordered at 330.4 ± 0.9 K, consistent with such structures reported in wet environments. We find that the AFM tip induces a restructuring or intercalation of the bilayer that is strongly related to the applied tip-force. These dry supported lipid bilayers show long-term stability. These findings are relevant for the development of functional biointerfaces, specifically for fabrication of biosensors and membrane protein platforms. The observed stability is relevant in the context of lifetimes of systems protected by bilayers in dry environments.
Project description:Lipid bilayers consisting of lipids with terminally perfluoroalkylated chains have remarkable properties. They exhibit increased stability and phase-separated nanoscale patterns in mixtures with nonfluorinated lipids. In order to understand the bilayer properties that are responsible for this behavior, we have analyzed the structure of solid-supported bilayers composed of 1,2-dipalmitoyl- sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) and of a DPPC analogue with 6 terminal perfluorinated methylene units (F6-DPPC). Polarized attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy indicates that for F6-DPPC, the tilt of the lipid acyl chains to the bilayer normal is increased to 39 degrees as compared to 21 degrees for native DPPC, for both lipids in the gel phase. This substantial increase of the tilt angle is responsible for a decrease of the bilayer thickness from 5.4 nm for DPPC to 4.5 nm for F6-DPPC, as revealed by temperature-controlled imaging ellipsometry on microstructured lipid bilayers and solution atomic force microscopy. During the main phase transition from the gel to the fluid phase, both the relative bilayer thickness change and the relative area change are substantially smaller for F6-DPPC than for DPPC. In light of these structural and thermotropic data, we propose a model in which the higher acyl-chain tilt angle in F6-DPPC is the result of a conformational rearrangement to minimize unfavorable fluorocarbon-hydrocarbon interactions in the center of the bilayer due to chain staggering.
Project description:Sphingolipids constitute a significant fraction of cellular plasma membrane lipid content. Among sphingolipids, ceramide levels are usually very low. However, in some cell processes like apoptosis, cell membrane ceramide levels increase markedly because of the activation of enzymes like acid sphingomyelinase. This increase can change the physical state of the membrane by promoting molecular order and inducing solid-ordered (So) phase domains. This effect has been observed in a previous 2H NMR study on membranes consisting of palmitoyl sphingomyelin (PSM) and palmitoyl ceramide (PCer). Cholesterol (Chol), too, is present at high concentrations in mammalian plasma membranes and has a favorable interaction with sphingomyelin (SM), together forming domains in the liquid-ordered phase in model membranes. There are reports that Chol is able to displace ceramide (Cer) in SM bilayers and abolish the So phase domains formed by SM:Cer. This ability of Chol appears to be concentration dependent; in membranes with low Chol and high Cer contents, So phase domains rich in Cer coexist with the continuous fluid phase of the membrane. Here, we studied the effect of increasing PCer concentration in PSM:Chol bilayers, using 2H NMR. Chol:PCer mole ratios were 3:1, 3:2, and 3:3, at a fixed 7:3 phospholipid:cholesterol mol ratio. Both PSM and PCer were monitored in separate samples for changes in their physical state by introducing a perdeuterated palmitoyl chain in either molecule. Moreover, the effect of replacing PSM with DPPC was investigated to test the impact on membrane phase behavior of replacing the sphingosine with a palmitoylated glycerol backbone. We found that PCer can increase acyl chain order in both PSM:Chol and DPPC:Chol bilayers. Especially in bilayers with Chol:PCer 1:1 molar ratios, PCer induces highly stable So phase domains in both PSM and DPPC bilayers near 37°C. However, PCer has a more pronounced ordering effect on PSM compared to DPPC bilayers.
Project description:Single- and multicomponent lipid bilayers of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine (DPPC), 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine (DSPC), isostearyl isostearate, and heptadecanoyl heptadecanoate in the gel phase are studied via molecular dynamics simulations. It is shown that the structural properties of multicomponent bilayers can deviate strongly from the structures of their single-component counterparts. Specifically, the lipid mixtures are shown to adopt a compact packing by offsetting the positioning depths at which different lipid species are located in the bilayer. This packing mechanism affects the area per lipid, the bilayer height, and the chain tilt angles and has important consequences for other bilayer properties, such as interfacial hydrogen bonding and bilayer permeability. In particular, the simulations suggest that bilayers containing isostearyl isostearate or heptadecanoyl heptadecanoate are less permeable than pure 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine or DSPC bilayers. Furthermore, hydrogen-bond analysis shows that the residence times of lipid-water hydrogen bonds depend strongly on the bilayer composition, with longer residence times for bilayers that have a higher DSPC content. The findings illustrate and explain the fundamental differences between the properties of single- and multicomponent bilayers.
Project description: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:Cationic liposomes are potential adjuvants for influenza vaccines. In a previous study we reported that among a panel of cationic liposomes loaded with influenza hemagglutinin (HA), DC-Chol:DPPC (1:1 molar ratio) liposomes induced the strongest immune response. However, it is not clear whether the cholesterol (Chol) backbone or the tertiary amine head group of DC-Chol was responsible for this. Therefore, in the present work we studied the influence of Chol in the lipid bilayer of cationic liposomes. Moreover, we investigated the effect of the HA loading method (adsorption versus encapsulation) and the encapsulation of immune modulators in DC-Chol liposomes on the immunogenicity of HA. Liposomes consisting of a neutral lipid (DPPC or Chol) and a cationic compound (DC-Chol, DDA, or eDPPC) were produced by film hydration-extrusion with/without an encapsulated immune modulator (CpG or imiquimod). The liposomes generally showed comparable size distribution, zeta potential and HA loading. In vitro studies with monocyte-derived human dendritic cells and immunization studies in C57Bl/6 mice showed that: (1) liposome-adsorbed HA is more immunogenic than encapsulated HA; (2) the incorporation of Chol in the bilayer of cationic liposomes enhances their adjuvant effect; and (3) CpG loaded liposomes are more efficient at enhancing HA-specific humoral responses than plain liposomes or Alhydrogel.
Project description:DNA-lipid complexes are of biomedical importance as delivery vectors for gene therapy. To gain insight into the interactions of DNA with zwitterionic and cationic (dimyristoyltrimethylammonium propane (DMTAP)) lipids, we have used coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to study the self-assembly of DPPC and DPPC/DMTAP lipid bilayers in the presence of a DNA dodecamer. We observed the spontaneous formation of lipid bilayers from initial systems containing randomly placed lipids, water-counterions and DNA. In both the DPPC and DPPC/DMTAP simulations, the DNA molecule is located at the water-lipid headgroup interface, lying approximately parallel to the plane of the bilayer. We have also calculated the potential of mean force for transferring a DNA dodecamer through a DPPC/DMTAP bilayer. A high energetic barrier to DNA insertion into the hydrophobic core of the bilayer is observed. The DNA adopts a transmembrane orientation only in this region. Local bilayer deformation in the vicinity of the DNA molecule is observed, largely as a result of the DNA-DMTAP headgroup attraction.