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The effect of hydronium ions on the structure of phospholipid membranes

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Abstract

This work seeks to identify the mechanisms by which hydronium ions (H3O+) modulate the structure of phospholipid bilayers by studying the interactions of H3O+ with phospholipids at the molecular level. For this, we carried out multiple microsecond-long unrestrained molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of a POPC bilayer at different H3O+ concentrations. The results show that H3O+ accumulates at the membrane surface where it displaces water and forms strong and long-lived hydrogen bonds with the phosphate and carbonyl oxygens in phospholipids. This results in a concentration-dependent reduction of the area per lipid and an increase in bilayer thickness. This study provides an important molecular-level insight into the mechanism of how H3O+ modulates the structure of biological membranes and is a critical step towards a better understanding of the effect of low pH on mammalian and bacterial membranes.

Graphical abstract: The effect of hydronium ions on the structure of phospholipid membranes

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Publication details

The article was received on 04 Oct 2017, accepted on 22 Nov 2017 and first published on 27 Nov 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7CP06776C
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2017, Advance Article
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    The effect of hydronium ions on the structure of phospholipid membranes

    E. Deplazes, D. Poger, B. Cornell and C. G. Cranfield, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7CP06776C

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