Investigation into the acyl chain packing of endotoxins and phospholipids under near physiological conditions by WAXS and FTIR spectroscopy

J Struct Biol. 1999 Dec 15;128(2):175-86. doi: 10.1006/jsbi.1999.4186.


The acyl chain packing of various endotoxins and phospholipids was monitored via the main wide-angle reflection between 0.410 and 0.460 nm by wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) and via the absorption band of the symmetric stretching vibration of the methylene groups v(s)(CH(2)) around 2849 to 2853 cm(-1) by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. The lipids investigated included various rough mutant (R) and smooth form (S) lipopolysaccharides (LPS) differing in the length of the sugar portion, lipid A, the "endotoxic principle" of LPS, and various saturated and unsaturated phospholipids with different head groups under a near physiological (>/=85%) water content. The packing density of the saturated endotoxin acyl chains is lower than those of saturated phospholipids but similar to those of monounsaturated phospholipids, each in the gel phase. The hydrophobic moiety of endotoxins thus exhibits significant conformational disorder already in the gel phase. The acyl chain packing of the endotoxins decreases with increasing length of the sugar chain lengths, which seems to be relevant to the observed differences in biological activity. For Re-LPS with different counterions (salt forms), in the presence of externally added cations or at reduced water content (50%), no change of the acyl chain packing density is deduced in the X-ray data, although the FT-IR data indicate its increase. The position of the v(s)(CH(2)) vibration is, thus, only a relative measure of lipid order, in particular when lipids with different head groups and in the presence of external agents are compared.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Endotoxins / chemistry*
  • Lipid A / chemistry
  • Lipopolysaccharides / chemistry
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Phospholipids / chemistry*
  • Salmonella*
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Endotoxins
  • Lipid A
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Phospholipids