The mixing of phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylcholine (PC) in fluid bilayer model membranes was studied by measuring binding of aqueous Ca2+ ions. The measured [Ca2+]aq was used to derive the activity coefficient for PS, gamma PS, in the lipid mixture. For (16:0, 18:1) PS in binary mixtures with either (16:0, 18:1)PC, (14:1, 14:1)PC, or (18:1, 18:1)PC, gamma PS > 1; i.e., mixing is nonideal, with PS and PC clustered rather than randomly distributed, despite the electrostatic repulsion between PS headgroups. To understand better this mixing behavior, Monte Carlo simulations of the PS/PC distributions were performed, using Kawasaki relaxation. The excess energy was divided into an electrostatic term Uel and one adjustable term including all other nonideal energy contributions, delta Em. Uel was calculated using a discrete charge theory. Kirkwood's coupling parameter method was used to calculate the excess free energy of mixing, delta GEmix, hence In gamma PS,calc. The values of In gamma PS,calc were equalized by adjusting delta Em in order to find the simulated PS/PC distribution that corresponded to the experimental results. We were thus able to compare the smeared charge calculation of [Ca2+]surf with a calculation ("masked evaluation method") that recognized clustering of the negatively charged PS: clustering was found to have a modest effect on [Ca2+]surf, relative to the smeared charge model. Even though both PS and PC tend to cluster, the long-range nature of the electrostatic repulsion reduces the extent of PS clustering at low PS mole fraction compared to PC clustering at an equivalent low PC mole fraction.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grant HL- 18255 and National Science Foundation grant DMB-89-12912. A. R. G. Dibble and A. K. Hinderliter were supported in part by National Institutes of Health Research Service Award 5T32GM-07273.