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Volume 161, 2013
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Computer simulations of the phase separation in model membranes

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We used computer simulations to investigate the properties of model lipid membranes with coexisting phases. This is relevant for understanding lipidlipid interactions underlying lateral organization in biological membranes. Molecular dynamics simulations with the MARTINI coarse-grained force field were employed to study lipid bilayers ∼40 nm in lateral dimension on a 20 μs time scale. The simulations retain near atomic-level detail and lipid chemical specificity, and allow formation of multiple domains of tens of nanometers in size. Using ternary lipid mixtures of saturated and unsaturated lipids and cholesterol, we reproduced the coexistence of the Lα/gel phases and the Lo/Ld phases. Phase transformation proceeded by either nucleation or spinodal decomposition. The properties of coexisting phases were characterized in detail, including partial lipid areas, composition, phase boundary and domain registry, based on Voronoi tessellation. We investigated variations of these properties with temperature and surface tension, and compared them to our recent simulations of lipid monolayers of the same size and composition. We found substantial overlap in bilayer and monolayer properties. Increasing the temperature in bilayers produced similar effects as increasing the surface tension in monolayers. This information can be used for interpreting experimental data on model membranes.

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Publication details

The article was received on 10 Jun 2012, accepted on 04 Jul 2012 and first published on 10 Oct 2012

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2FD20117H
Faraday Discuss., 2013,161, 63-75

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    Computer simulations of the phase separation in model membranes

    S. Baoukina, E. Mendez-Villuendas, W. F. D. Bennett and D. P. Tieleman, Faraday Discuss., 2013, 161, 63
    DOI: 10.1039/C2FD20117H

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