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Understanding the Interaction of Block Copolymers with DMPC Lipid Bilayer Using Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics Simulations

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journal contribution
posted on 13.12.2012, 00:00 by Samira Hezaveh, Susruta Samanta, Antonio De Nicola, Giuseppe Milano, Danilo Roccatano
In this paper, we present a computational model of the adsorption and percolation mechanism of poloxamers (poly­(ethylene oxide) (PEO) and poly­(propylene oxide) (PPO) triblock copolymers) across a 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) lipid bilayer. A coarse-grained model was used to cope with the long time scale of the percolation process. The simulations have provided details of the interaction mechanism of Pluronics with lipid bilayer. In particular, the results have shown that polymer chains containing a PPO block with a length comparable to the DMPC bilayer thickness, such as P85, tends to percolate across the lipid bilayer. On the contrary, Pluronics with a shorter PPO chain, such as L64 and F38, insert partially into the membrane with the PPO block part while the PEO blocks remain in water on one side of the lipid bilayer. The percolation of the polymers into the lipid tail groups reduces the membrane thickness and increases the area per lipid. These effects are more evident for P85 than L64 or F38. Our findings are qualitatively in good agreement with published small-angle X-ray scattering experiments that have evidenced a thinning effect of Pluronics on the lipid bilayer as well as the role of the length of the PPO block on the permeation process of the polymer through the lipid bilayer. Our theoretical results complement the experimental data with a detailed structural and dynamic model of poloxamers at the interface and inside the lipid bilayer.