Universal behavior of membranes with sterols

J. Henriksen, A. C. Rowat, E. Brief, Y. W. Hsueh, J. L. Thewalt, M. J. Zuckermann, J. H. Ipsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

243 Scopus citations


Lanosterol is the biosynthetic precursor of cholesterol and ergosterol, sterols that predominate in the membranes of mammals and lower eukaryotes, respectively. These three sterols are structurally quite similar, yet their relative effects on membranes have been shown to differ. Here we study the effects of cholesterol, lanosterol, and ergosterol on 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine lipid bilayers at room temperature. Micropipette aspiration is used to determine membrane material properties (area compressibility modulus), and information about lipid chain order (first moments) is obtained from deuterium nuclear magnetic resonance. We compare these results, along with data for membrane-bending rigidity, to explore the relationship between membrane hydrophobic thickness and elastic properties. Together, such diverse approaches demonstrate that membrane properties are affected to different degrees by these structurally distinct sterols, yet nonetheless exhibit universal behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1639-1649
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2006


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