Impact of Headgroup Asymmetry and Protonation State on the Aggregation Behavior of a New Type of Glycerol Diether Bolalipid

Langmuir. 2018 Apr 10;34(14):4360-4373. doi: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.8b00527. Epub 2018 Mar 27.


In the present work, we describe the synthesis and the temperature-dependent aggregation behavior of a new class of asymmetrical glycerol diether bolalipids. These bolalipids are composed of a membrane-spanning alkyl chain with 32 carbon atoms (C32) in the sn-3 position, a methyl-branched C16 alkyl chain in the sn-2 position, and a zwitterionic phosphocholine headgroup in the sn-1 position of a glycerol moiety. The long C32 alkyl chain is terminated either by a second phosphocholine (PC-Gly(2C16Me)C32-PC) or by a phosphodimethylethanolamine headgroup (PC-Gly(2C16Me)C32-Me2PE). The temperature- and pH-dependent aggregation behavior of both lipids was studied using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments. The morphology of the formed aggregates in an aqueous suspension was visualized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We show that PC-Gly(2C16Me)C32-PC and PC-Gly(2C16Me)C32-Me2PE at pH 5 self-assemble into large lamellar aggregates and large lipid vesicles. Within these structures, the bolalipid molecules are probably assembled in a monolayer with fully interdigitated chains. The lipid molecules seem to be tilted with respect to the layer normal to ensure a dense packing of the alkyl chains. A temperature increase leads to a transition from a lamellar gel phase to the liquid-crystalline phase at about 28-30 °C for both bolalipids. The lamellar aggregates of PC-Gly(2C16Me)C32-Me2PE started to transform into nanofibers when the pH value of the suspension was increased to above 11. At pH 12, these nanofibers were the dominant aggregates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't