The role of fatty acid unsaturation in minimizing biophysical changes on the structure and local effects of bilayer membranes

Sukit Leekumjorn, Hyun Ju Cho, Yifei Wu, Neil T. Wright, Amadeu K. Sum, Christina Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Studying the effects of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids on biological and model (liposomes) membranes could provide insight into the contribution of biophysical effects on the cytotoxicity observed with saturated fatty acids. In vitro experiments suggest that unsaturated fatty acids, such as oleate and linoleate, are less toxic, and have less impact on the membrane fluidity. To understand and assess the biophysical changes in the presence of the different fatty acids, we performed computational analyses of model liposomes with palmitate, oleate, and linoleate. The computational results indicate that the unsaturated fatty acid chain serves as a membrane stabilizer by preventing changes to the membrane fluidity. Based on a Voronoi tessellation analysis, unsaturated fatty acids have structural properties that can reduce the lipid ordering within the model membranes. In addition, hydrogen bond analysis indicates a more uniform level of membrane hydration in the presence of oleate and linoleate as compared to palmitate. Altogether, these observations from the computational studies provide a possible mechanism by which unsaturated fatty acids minimize biophysical changes and protect the cellular membrane and structure. To corroborate our findings, we also performed a liposomal leakage study to assess how the different fatty acids alter the membrane integrity of liposomes. This showed that palmitate, a saturated fatty acid, caused greater destabilization of liposomes (more "leaky") than oleate, an unsaturated fatty acid.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages1508-1516
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Volume1788
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Profile

Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Fatty Acids
Oleic Acid
Membranes
Liposomes
Palmitates
Linoleic Acid
Membrane Fluidity
Fluidity
Biological Models
Poisons
Cellular Structures
Hydrogen
Cytotoxicity
Hydration
Lipids
Structural properties
Hydrogen bonds

Keywords

  • Cytotoxicity
  • Fatty acid
  • Liposome
  • Membrane fluidity
  • Saturated
  • Unsaturated

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

The role of fatty acid unsaturation in minimizing biophysical changes on the structure and local effects of bilayer membranes. / Leekumjorn, Sukit; Cho, Hyun Ju; Wu, Yifei; Wright, Neil T.; Sum, Amadeu K.; Chan, Christina.

In: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, Vol. 1788, No. 7, 07.2009, p. 1508-1516.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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