Specific Deuteration and Membrane Structures
Diffraction methods have provided a firm time-averaged picture of lipid bilayers and membranes. The basic characteristics of lipid bilayer phases have been obtained, mainly by x-ray diffraction, and some overall mean conformational properties of lipids have been determined (6, 10, 11, 13, 19, 20). As outlined by Tardieu et al. (20), one remarkable feature of lipids is their ability to combine in one phase a periodically ordered long-range organization in one, two, or three dimensions and a highly disordered short-range conformation. This property seems closely related to the function of the lipid matrix in natural membranes. In particular, because of this short-range disorder, it was not possible for a long time to determine the mean conformation of a lipid in a bilayer at higher resolution. Every segment undergoes large positional fluctuations, so that x-ray profiles can give only the superposition of these overlapping segmental distributions, thus hiding the details of the average lipid conformation.
KeywordsGlycerol Backbone Fatty Acyl Chain Neutron Diffraction Experiment Label Segment Neutron Scatter Length Density
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