The effect of ceramide on phosphatidylcholine membranes: A deuterium NMR study

Ya Wei Hsueh, Ralph Giles, Neil Kitson, Jenifer Thewalt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Biological membranes contain domains having distinct physical properties. We study defined mixtures of phosphoglycerolipids and sphingolipids to ascertain the fundamental interactions governing these lipids in the absence of other cell membrane components. By using 2H-NMR we have determined the temperature and composition dependencies of membrane structure and phase behavior for aqueous dispersions of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) and the ceramide (Cer) N-palmitoyl-sphingosine. It is found that gel and liquid-crystalline phases coexist over a wide range of temperature and composition. Domains of different composition and phase state are present in POPC/Cer membranes at physiological temperature for Cer concentrations exceeding 15 mol %. The acyl chains of liquid crystalline phase POPC are ordered by the presence of Cer. Moreover, Cer's chain ordering is greater than that of POPC in the liquid crystalline phase. However, there is no evidence of liquid-liquid phase separation in the liquid crystalline region of the POPC/Cer phase diagram.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3089-3095
Number of pages7
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


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