Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 398, Issue 2, pp 1109–1123 | Cite as

A spectroscopic method to estimate the binding potency of amphiphile assemblies

  • D. R. Gauger
  • V. V. Andrushchenko
  • P. Bouř
  • W. Pohle
Original Paper


A fast and convenient spectroscopic methodology to determine the water uptake capacity of amphiphile assemblies studied in multilayer films is presented. This method was developed to provide a reliable but relatively simple tool for estimating the binding potency of such complex systems. The water-binding potency represents a general propensity of higher-order systems to bind or embed relevant ligands, such as various non-lipid effectors in the case of artificial lipid membranes. In this sense, the binding potency might contribute to a specific functional role of certain lipids. The essence of the new method is that the calibration of data measured by infrared (IR) spectroscopy against those directly obtained by Karl–Fischer titration (KFT) enables one to replace the expensive chemical–analytical technique by a more comfortable and efficient IR-spectroscopic protocol. This approach combines the easy handling, versatility, and availability of IR spectroscopy with the high accuracy of KFT. The usefulness of the procedure is demonstrated on an example set of six amphiphiles with a common chain length of 18 carbon atoms. Despite this similarity, the binding potency data differ tremendously in a way which can be correlated with the systematic variations introduced into the amphiphile structure. Going further beyond the methodical aspect, the scientific relevance of the data is comprehensively discussed especially in terms of the structural factors that govern the binding potency of amphiphiles. That is favored mainly by fluidity and disfavored mainly by inter-amphiphile binding networks. For phosphatidylcholine, our data are strongly in favor of a particular hydration model that involves primary water binding to phosphate as well as the formation of water semi-clathrates hosting the trimethylammonium moiety. Interestingly, stearylamine and diolein assemblies did not take up any water at all. This unexpected hydrophobicity is due to the unusual structures formed in these latter cases: rigid ammonium amide with a strong hydrogen-bonding/salt bridge network in stearylamine, and patches of inverted micelles in diolein, as revealed by molecular dynamics simulations.

Figure 1

Snapshots of six unit cells from the molecular dynamics simulations performed for the neat DOG60 system under periodic boundary conditions; the snapshots were taken at different times: a) 0 ns; b) 5 ns; c) 7 ns; d) 20 ns. The pictures demonstrate the formation of inverted micelles (b) from the bilayers (a) taken as an arbitrary starting configuration and the successive coalescence of these micelles into “patches” (c,d).


Binding potency Infrared spectroscopy Karl–Fischer titration Molecular dynamics Amphiphiles (lipids, surfactants) Hydration 



W.P. and D.R.G. are indebted to Hartmut Liebetrau for technical assistance. P.B. and V.A. thank the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (grants 203/06/0420, 202/07/0732 and P208/10/0559) and Grant Agency of the Czech Academy of Sciences (A400550702 and A400550701) for financial support of the computational part of this work.

Supplementary material

216_2010_3969_MOESM1_ESM.mpg (3.4 mb)
Movie S1 Trajectory of the first 5 ns of the MD simulations of DOG60 system showing the transition from a bilayer initial structure into a spherical structure (inverted micelle) (MPG 3531 kb)
216_2010_3969_MOESM2_ESM.mpg (5 mb)
Movie S2 Trajectory of the first 5 ns of the MD simulations of DOG60 system hydrated with a layer of water molecules (40 waters per amphiphile thick) showing the separation of DOG and water phases (MPG 5162 kb)
216_2010_3969_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (443 kb)
ESM (PDF 443 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. R. Gauger
    • 1
  • V. V. Andrushchenko
    • 2
  • P. Bouř
    • 2
  • W. Pohle
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biochemistry and BiophysicsFriedrich Schiller University of JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Organic Chemistry and BiochemistryAcademy of SciencesPrague 6Czech Republic

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