The hierarchical assembly of lipids, as modulated by composition and environment, plays a significant role in the function of biological membranes and a myriad of diseases. Elevated concentrations of calcium ions and cardiolipin, an anionic tetra-alkyl lipid found in mitochondria and some bacterial cell membranes, have been implicated in pneumonia recently. However, their impact on the physicochemical properties of lipid assemblies in lungs and how it impairs alveoli function is still unknown. We use Small- and Wide- Angle X-ray Scattering (S/WAXS) and Solid-State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (ssNMR) to probe the structure and dynamics of lung-mimetic multilamellar bodies (MLBs) in the presence of Ca and cardiolipin. We conjecture that cardiolipin overexpressed in the hypophase of alveoli strongly affects the structure of lung-lipid bilayers and their stacking in the MLBs. Specifically, S/WAXS data revealed that cardiolipin induces significant shrinkage of the water-layer separating the concentric bilayers in multilamellar aggregates. ssNMR measurements indicate that this inter-bilayer tightening is due to undulation repulsion damping as cardiolipin renders the glycerol backbone of the membranes significantly more static. In addition to MLB dehydration, cardiolipin promotes intra-bilayer phase separation into saturated-rich and unsaturated-rich lipid domains that couple across multiple layers. Expectedly, addition of Ca screens the electrostatic repulsion between negatively charged lung membranes. However, when cardiolipin is present, addition of Ca results in an apparent inter-bilayer expansion likely due to local structural defects. Combining S/WAXS and ssNMR on systems with compositions pertinent to healthy and unhealthy lung membranes, we propose how alteration of the physiochemical properties of multilamellar bodies can critically impact the breathing cycle.
Last updated on 05/13/2019
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