Khakbaz, Pouyan; Klauda, Jeffery B.
Probing the importance of lipid diversity in cell membranes via molecular simulation

Lipid membranes in prokaryotes and eukaryotes have a wide array of lipids that are necessary for proper membrane structure and function. In this paper, an introduction to lipid diversity in biology and a mini-review on how molecular simulations have been used to model biological membranes (primarily limited to one to three lipid types in most simulation-based models) is provided, which motivates the use of all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to study the effect of lipid diversity on properties of realistic membrane models of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. As an example, cytoplasmic membrane models of Escherichia coli were developed at different stages of the colony growth cycle (early-log, mid-log, stationary and overnight). The main difference between lipid compositions at each stage was the concentration of a cyclopropane-containing moiety on the sn-2 lipid acyl chain (cyC17:0). Triplicate MD simulations for each stage were run for 300 ns to study the influence of lipid diversity on the surface area per lipid, area compressibility modulus, deuterium order parameters, and electron density profiles. The overnight stage (also known as the death stage) had the highest average surface area per lipid, highest rigidity, and lowest bilayer thickness compare to other stages of E. coli cytoplasmic membrane. Although bilayer thickness did depend on the growth stage, the changes between these were small suggesting that the hydrophobic core of transmembrane proteins fit well with the membrane in all growth stages. Although it is still common practise in MD simulations of membrane proteins to use simple one- or two-component membranes, it can be important to use diverse lipid model membranes when membrane protein structure and function are influenced by changes in lipid membrane composition. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


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