Acyl chain-length asymmetry alters the interfacial elastic interactions of phosphatidylcholines

Shaukat Ali, Janice M. Smaby, Maureen M. Momsen, Howard L. Brockman, Rhoderick E Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Phosphatidylcholines (PCs) with stearoyl (18:0) sn-1 chains and variable-length, saturated sn-2 acyl chains were synthesized and investigated using a Langmuir-type film balance. Surface pressure was monitored as a function of lipid molecular area at various constant temperatures between 10°C and 30°C. Over this temperature range, 18:0-10:0 PC displayed only liquid-expanded behavior. In contrast, di-14:0 PC displayed liquid-expanded behavior at 24°C and 30°C, but two-dimensional phase transitions were evident at 20°C, 15°C, and 10°C. The average molecular area of 18:0-10:0 PC was larger than that of liquid-expanded di-14:0 PC at equivalent surface pressures, and the shapes of their liquid expanded isotherms were somewhat dissimilar. Analysis of the elastic moduli of area compressibility (C(s)- 1) as a function of molecular area revealed shallower slopes in the semilog plots of 18:0-10:0 PC compared to di-14:0 PC. At membrane-like surface pressures (e.g., 30 mN/m), 18:0-10:0 PC was 20-25% more elastic (in an in- plane sense) than di-14:0 PC. Other PCs with varying degrees of chain-length asymmetry (18:0 -8:0 PC, 18:0 -12:0 PC, 18:0-14:0 PC, 18:0-16:0 PC) were also investigated to determine whether the higher in-plane elasticity of fluid- phase 18:0 -10:0 PC is a common feature of PCs with asymmetrical chain lengths. Two-dimensional phase transitions in 18:0-14:0 PC and 18:0-16:0 PC prevented meaningful comparison with other fluid-phase PCs at 30 mN/m. However, the C(s)-1 values for fluid-phase 18:0-8:0 PC and 18:0-12:0 PC were similar to that of 18:0-10:0 PC (85-90 mN/m). These values showed chain- length asymmetrical PCs to have 20-25% greater in-plane elasticity than fluid-phase PCs with mono- or diunsaturated acyl chains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-348
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This investigation was supported by U.S. Public Health Service grant GM45928 (REB) and the Hormel Foundation. The automated Langmuir film balance used in this investigation received major support from U.S. Public Health Service grants HL49180 and HL17371 (HLB). We also thank the anonymous referees for their helpful insights.


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