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Bolaamphiphiles Promote Phospholipid Translocation Across Vesicle Membranes

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journal contribution
posted on 19.07.2006, 00:00 authored by Christopher C. Forbes, Kristy M. DiVittorio, Bradley D. Smith
A series of membrane-spanning bolaamphiphiles (molecules with two hydrophilic end groups connected by a hydrophobic linker) were prepared by a modular synthetic method and evaluated for their abilities to affect the dynamics of a surrounding bilayer membrane. The goal was to determine if the bolaamphiphiles promote the translocation of phospholipids across vesicle membranes. The bolaamphiphiles were incorporated at low levels (up to 5 mol %) in vesicles composed of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC). Inward translocation assays were performed using fluorescent, NBD-labeled phospholipid probes with phosphocholine (PC) or phosphoglycerol (PG) headgroups. The membrane-spanning bolaamphiphiles promote the translocation of both phospholipid probes in the order PG > PC, whereas shorter bolaamphiphiles (structures that must adopt a U-shape and keep both end groups in the same leaflet of the membrane), and regular amphiphiles with one hydrophilic end group, are inactive. These results are an exception to the rule-of-thumb that membrane-spanning bolaamphiphiles are inherently membrane-stabilizing molecules that inhibit all types of membrane transport.