Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 80, Issue 1–4, pp 95–98 | Cite as

Inorganic mercury interactions with lipid components of biological membranes:31P-NMR study of Hg(II) binding to headgroups of micellar phospholipids

  • L. Girault
  • P. Lemaire
  • A. Boudou
  • E. J. Dufourc
Part I Mercury and Human Health


Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylcholine (PC) in micellar phase in water have been studied by high resolution phosphorus-31 nuclear magnetic resonance (31P-NMR), in order to follow inorganic mercury Hg(II) binding to the lipid headgroups. Decrease of the NMR peak area is observed upon HgCl2 addition, with greater effect on PE and PS compared to PC. This is interpreted by Hg(II) binding to several phospholipid headgroups, linking different micelles together and forming by extension a large “insoluble” phospholipid-mercury network that is undetectable by high-resolution31P-NMR. The extent of phospholipid aggregation depends on the mercury-to-lipid molar ratio, and apparent Hg(II) affinities to phospholipid headgroups are in the order PE>PS>>PC. When HgCl2 is added to mixed micelles prepared with two lipids (PE/PC or PS/PC), co-precipitation is observed for both components in similar proportions.


Lipid Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Phosphatidylcholine Phosphatidylethanolamine Phosphatidylserine 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Girault
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. Lemaire
    • 3
  • A. Boudou
    • 2
  • E. J. Dufourc
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de Recherche Paul PascalCNRSPessac
  2. 2.Laboratoire d'Ecologie fondamentale et EcotoxicologieERS CNRS 077, Université de Bordeaux ITalenceFrance
  3. 3.Plymouth Marine LaboratoryPlymouthUK

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