We have studied the main thermal transition in dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine (DPPC) multilayers and a similar transition in small (∼300 Å diameter), single-walled vesicles by X-ray diffraction. As judged by the large-angle diffraction, the transition in the multilayers is narrow; aside from small tails, the transition occurs over a range of 0.5°C. In contrast, the transition in the vesicles is quite broad; the range is about 7°C. These observations are in agreement with recently published data.
Referring to the small vesicles below the thermal transition, a bilayer structure in which the C16 chains are all straight and pointed radially is inconsistent with the large-angle diffraction. Assuming instead that the chains are packed in a regular, planar array, it is clear from their small size that the vesicles can have only limited regions of planar packing. The X-ray data indicate that the planar regions are 75 Å across on the average. In view of the 75-Å size and the average vesicle diameter of about 300 Å, we propose that the small vesicles are faceted below the transition, i.e., that the vesicles are polygonal. The small-angle diffraction pattern from the vesicles below the transition provides support for the faceted structure.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Albon, N., Sturtevant, J.M. 1978. Nature of the gel to liquid crystal transition of synthetic phosphatidylcholines.Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 75:2258
Blaurock, A.E. 1973. The structure of a lipid-cytochromec membrane.Biophys. J. 13:290
Blaurock, A.E. 1978. Disorder is characteristic of nerve myelin.Biochim. Biophys. Acta 510:11
Blaurock, A.E., Nelander, J.C. 1976. Disorder in nerve myelin: Analysis of the diffuse X-ray scattering.J. Mol. Biol. 103:421
Caspar, D.L.D., Klug, A. 1962. Physical principles in the construction of regular viruses.Cold Spring Harbor Symp. Quant. Biol. 27:1
Chapman, D., Peel, W.E., Kingston, B., Lilley, T.H. 1977. Lipid phase transitions in model biomembranes. The effect of ions on phosphatidylcholine bilayers.Biochim. Biophys. Acta 464:260
Chapman, D., Williams, R.M., Ladbrooke, B.D. 1967. Physical studies of phospholipids. VI. Thermotropic and lyotropic mesomorphism of some 1,2-diacyl-phosphatidylcholines (lecithins).Chem. Phys. Lipids 1:445
Chrzeszczyk, A., Wishnia, A., Springer, C.S., Jr. 1977. The intrinsic structural asymmetry of highly curved phospholipid bilayer membranes.Biochim. Biophys. Acta 470:161
Cundy, H.M., Rollett, A.P. 1952. Mathematical Models. Clarendon Press, Oxford
Dervichian, D.G. 1964. The physical chemistry of phospholipids.Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 14:263
Gaber, B.P., Peticolas, W.L. 1977. On the quantitative interpretation of biomembrane structure by Raman spectroscopy.Biochim. Biophys. Acta 465:260
Guinier, A. 1963. X-Ray Diffraction. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco
Inoko, Y., Mitsui, T. 1978. Structural parameters of dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine lamellar phases and bilayer phase transitions.J. Phys. Soc. Jpn. 44:1918
Janiak, M.J., Small, D.M., Shipley, G.G. 1976. Nature of the thermal pretransition of synthetic phospholipids: Dimyristoyl- and dipalmitoyl lecithin.Biochemistry 15:4525
Lawaczeck, R., Kainosho, M., Chan, S.I. 1976. The formation and annealing of structural defects in lipid bilayer vesicles.Biochim. Biophys. Acta 443:313
Levine, Y.K., Bailey, A.I., Wilkins, M.H.F. 1968. Multilayers of phospholipid bimolecular leaflets.Nature (London) 220:577
Levine, Y.K., Wilkins, M.H.F. 1971. Structure of oriented lipid bilayers.Nature New Biol. 230:69
Mabrey, S., Sturtevant, J.M. 1976. Investigation of phase transitions of lipids and lipid mixtures by high sensitivity differential scanning calorimetry.Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 73:3862
Marsh, D., Watts, A., Knowles, P.F. 1977. Cooperativity of the phase transition in single- and multibilayer lipid vesicles.Biochim. Biophys. Acta 465:500
McClure, D.W. 1968. Nature of the rotational phase transition in paraffin crystals.J. Chem. Phys. 49:1830
Melchior, D.L., Steim, J.M. 1976. Thermotropic transitions in biomembranes.Annu. Rev. Biophys. 5:205
Moody, M.F. 1975. Diffraction by dispersions of spherical membrane vesicles. I. The basic equations.Acta Cryst. A31:8
Muller, A. 1932. An X-ray investigation of normal paraffins near their melting points.Proc. R. Soc. (London) A138:514
Petersen, N.O., Chan, S.I. 1978. The effects of the thermal prephase transition and salts on the coagulation and flocculation of phosphatidylcholine bilayer vesicles.Biochim. Biophys. Acta 509:111
Sheetz, M.P., Chan, S.I. 1972. Effect of sonication on the structure of lecithin bilayers.Biochemistry 11:4573
Suurkuusk, J., Lentz, B.R., Barenholz, Y., Biltonen, R.L., Thompson, T.E. 1976. A calorimetric and fluorescent probe study of the gel-liquid crystalline phase transition in small, single-lamellar dipalmitoyl-phosphatidylcholine vesicles.Biochemistry 15:1393
Tardieu, A., Luzzati, V., Reman, F.C. 1973. Structure and polymorphism of the hydrocarbon chains of lipids: A study of lecithin-water phases.J. Mol. Biol. 75:711
Tsong, T.Y., Kanehisa, M.I. 1977. Relaxation phenomena in aqueous dispersions of synthetic lecithins.Biochemistry 16:2674
Warren, B.E. 1933. X-ray diffraction in long chain liquids.Phys. Rev. 44:969
Webb, N.G., Samson, S., Stroud, R.M., Gamble, R.C., Baldeschwieler, J.D. 1977. A focusing monochromator for small-angle diffraction studies with synchrotron radiation.J. Appl. Cryst. 10:104
Wilkins, M.H.F., Blaurock, A.E., Engelman, D.M. 1971. Bilayer structure in membranes.Nature New Biol. 230:72
Zachariasen, W.H. 1935. The liquid “structure” of methyl alcohol.J. Chem. Phys. 3:158
About this article
Cite this article
Blaurock, A.E., Gamble, R.C. Small phosphatidylcholine vesicles appear to be faceted below the thermal phase transition. J. Membrain Biol. 50, 187–204 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01868948
- Thermal Transition
- Small Vesicle
- Bilayer Structure