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Understanding the Link between Lipid Diversity and the Biophysical Properties of the Neuronal Plasma Membrane

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-08-12, 12:07 authored by Katie A. Wilson, Hugo I. MacDermott-Opeskin, Eden Riley, Yiechang Lin, Megan L. O’Mara
Cell membranes contain incredible diversity in the chemical structures of their individual lipid species and the ratios in which these lipids are combined to make membranes. Nevertheless, our current understanding of how each of these components affects the properties of the cell membrane remains elusive, in part due to the difficulties in studying the dynamics of membranes at high spatiotemporal resolution. In this work, we use coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to investigate how individual lipid species contribute to the biophysical properties of the neuronal plasma membrane. We progress through eight membranes of increasing chemical complexity, ranging from a simple POPC/CHOL membrane to a previously published neuronal plasma membrane [Ingólfsson, H. I., et al. (2017) Biophys. J. 113 (10), 2271–2280] containing 49 distinct lipid species. Our results show how subtle chemical changes can affect the properties of the membrane and highlight the lipid species that give the neuronal plasma membrane its unique biophysical properties. This work has potential far-reaching implications for furthering our understanding of cell membranes.