New fluorescent cholesterol analogs as membrane probes

Irina V. Grechishnikova, Fredric Bergström, Lennart B.Å Johansson, Rhoderick E. Brown, Julian G. Molotkovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


New fluorescent cholesterol analogs, (22E,20R)-3β-hydroxy-23-(9-anthryl)-24-norchola-5,22-diene (R-AV-Ch), and the 20S-isomer (S-AV-Ch) were synthesized, their spectral and membrane properties were characterized. The probes bear a 9-anthrylvinyl (AV) group instead of C22-C27 segment of the cholesterol alkyl chain. Computer simulations show that both of the probes have bulkier tail regions than cholesterol and predict some perturbation in the packing of membranes, particularly for R-AV-Ch. In monolayer experiments, the force-area behavior of the probes was compared with that of cholesterol, pure and in mixtures with palmitoyloleoyl phosphatidylcholine (POPC) and N-stearoyl sphingomyelin (SSM). The results show that pure R-AV-Ch occupies 35-40% more cross-sectional area than cholesterol at surface pressures below film collapse (0-22 mN/m); whereas S-AV-Ch occupies nearly the same molecular area as cholesterol. Isotherms of POPC or SSM mixed with 0.1 mol fraction of either probe are similar to isotherms of the corresponding mixtures of POPC or SSM with cholesterol. The probes show typical AV absorption (λ 386, 368, 350 and 256 nm) and fluorescence (λ 412-435 nm) spectra. Steady-state anisotropies of R-AV-Ch and S-AV-Ch in isotropic medium or liquid-crystalline bilayers are higher than the values obtained for other AV probes reflecting hindered intramolecular mobility of the fluorophore and decreased overall rotational rate of the rigid cholesterol derivatives. This suggestion is confirmed by time-resolved fluorescence experiments which show also, in accordance with monolayer data, that S-AV-Ch is better accommodated in POPC-cholesterol bilayers than R-AV-Ch. Model and natural membranes can be labeled by either injecting the probes via a water-soluble organic solvent or by co-lyophilizing probe and phospholipid prior to vesicle production. Detergent-solubilization studies involving 'raft' lipids showed that S-AV-Ch almost identically mimicked the behavior of cholesterol and that of R-AV-Ch was only slightly inferior. Overall, the data suggest that the AV-labeled cholesterol analogs mimic cholesterol behavior in membrane systems and will be useful in related studies. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-202
Number of pages14
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 20 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. M.A. Sablina for help in performing of the computer simulation experiments, Dr. Howard Brockman for providing access to the Langmuir film balance, and Jan Smaby for monolayer technical assistance. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of a NAS/NRC COBASE Project Development Grant (J.G.M. and R.E.B.), the Swedish Natural Science Research Council (L.B.-Å.J.) and USPHS Grant GM45928 (R.E.B.). And we thank the anonymous Reviewers of the first version of our manuscript for their helpful insights and suggestions.


  • Anthrylvinyl
  • Detergent-insolubility
  • Fluorescence parameter
  • Model bilayer
  • Monolayer
  • Sterol analog

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