Structure of supported DPPC/cholesterol bilayers studied: Via X-ray reflectivity

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Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics



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The electron density profile of bilayers of DPPC/cholesterol mixtures supported on semiconductor grade silicon substrates were studied with the objective of determining how the proximity of a solid interface modifies the phase diagram of mixed bilayers. The bilayers were studied in situ immersed in water via synchrotron X-ray reflectivity (XRR). Measurements were performed as a function of temperature through the main phase transition and cholesterol mole fractions up to 40%. Analysis of XRR yields the bilayer thickness, roughness and leaflet asymmetry. We find that the structure of the pure DPPC bilayers in the gel phase is in agreement with previous X-ray measurements of supported bilayers deposited via vesicle fusion and multilamellar vesicles but show more clearly defined features than measurements made on films formed using Langmuir-Blodget Langmuir-Shaffer (LB) deposition. Examination of bilayer thickness vs. temperature shows that the melting temperature for supported bilayers is shifted upwards by approximately 4 °C relative to multilamellar vesicles and that the melting temperature decreases with increasing cholesterol content up to 20%. For pure DPPC bilayers the leaflets melt in two stages with the distal leaflet melting first. For cholesterol concentrations of 10% and 20% there is no clear indication of separate melting. For 33% and 40% cholesterol content no clear transition is seen in the bilayer thickness, but an abrupt change in roughness indicates possible microdomain formation in the 40% cholesterol sample.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Department of Physics