Differential scanning calorimetric study of the effect of sterol side chain length and structure on dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine thermotropic phase behavior

T. P. McMullen, C. Vilchèze, R. N. McElhaney, R. Bittman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Scopus citations


We have investigated the thermotropic phase behavior of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) bilayers containing a series of cholesterol analogues varying in the length and structure of their alkyl side chains. We find that upon the incorporation of up to approximately 25 mol % of any of the side chain analogues, the DPPC main transition endotherm consists of superimposed sharp and broad components representing the hydrocarbon chain melting of sterol-poor and sterol-rich phospholipid domains, respectively. Moreover, the behavior of these components is dependent on sterol side chain length. Specifically, for all sterol/DPPC mixtures, the sharp component enthalpy decreases linearly to zero by 25 mol % sterol while the cooperativity is only moderately reduced from that observed in the pure phospholipid. In addition, the sharp component transition temperature decreases for all sterol/DPPC mixtures; however, the magnitude of the decrease is dependent on the sterol side chain length. With respect to the broad component, the enthalpy initially increases to a maximum around 25 mol % sterol, thereafter decreasing toward zero by 50 mol % sterol with the exception of the sterols with very short alkyl side chains. Both the transition temperature and cooperativity of the broad component clearly exhibit alkyl chain length-dependent effects, with both the transition temperature and cooperativity decreasing more dramatically for sterols with progressively shorter side chains. We ascribe the chain length-dependent effects on transition temperature and cooperativity to the hydrophobic mismatch between the sterol and the host DPPC bilayer (see McMullen, T. P. W., Lewis, R. N. A. H., and McElhaney, R. N. (1993) Biochemistry 32:516–522).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics

Cite this