An ordered metastable phase in hydrated phosphatidylethanolamine: The Y-transition

Institute of Biophysics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Acad. G. Bonchev str. 21, 1113, Sofia, Bulgaria.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (Impact Factor: 4.66). 03/1999; 1417(1):183-90. DOI: 10.1016/S0005-2736(98)00259-4
Source: PubMed


By using time-resolved X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry and scanning densitometry, we observed rapid formation at low temperature of a metastable ordered phase, termed LR1 phase, in fully hydrated dihexadecylphosphatidylethanolamine (DHPE). The LR1 phase has the same lamellar repeat period as the gel Lbeta phase but differs from the latter in its more ordered, orthorhombic hydrocarbon chain arrangement. It forms at about 12 degrees C upon cooling and manifests itself as splitting of the sharp, symmetric wide-angle X-ray peak of the DHPE gel phase into two reflections. This transition, designated the 'Y-transition', is readily reversible and proceeds with almost no hysteresis between cooling and heating scans. Calorimetrically, the LR1-->Lbeta transition is recorded as a low-enthalpy (0.2 kcal/mol) endothermic event. The formation of the LR1 phase from the gel phase is associated with a small, about 2 microl/g, decrease of the lipid partial specific volume recorded by scanning densitometry, in agreement with a volume calculation based on the X-ray data. The formation of the equilibrium Lc phase was found to take place from within the LR1 phase. This appears to be the only observable pathway for crystallisation of DHPE upon low-temperature incubation. Once formed, the Lc phase of this lipid converts directly into Lbeta phase at 50 degrees C, skipping the LR1 phase. Thus, the LR1 phase of DHPE can only be entered by cooling of the gel Lbeta phase. The data disclose certain similarities between the low-temperature polymorphism of DHPE and that of long-chain normal alkanes.

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