The hydrophobic acyl-chain effect in the lipid domains appearance through phospholipid bilayers

Liviu Movileanu, Dumitru Popescu, Maria Luiza Flonta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


An intermolecular interaction model for selective association processes of double-chain phospholipids in bilayer lipid membranes has been proposed, analysed and solved numerically. A large variety of binary mixtures of asymmetrical double-chain phospholipids with the cross-sectional areas of the polar headgroups a1 = 40 Å2 (the first component) and a2 = 60 Å2 (the second component) have been investigated. Changing the hydrophobic acyl-chain lengths of both mixture components, we found in all cases that the self-association probability (the association of like-pairs of phospholipids) of the first component in parallel alignment of the electric dipole moments of the polar headgroups is higher than the cross-association probability (the association of cross-pairs of phospholipids) and the self-association probability of the second component. This result is in good agreement with the experimental evidence that where the cross-sectional area of the polar headgroups matches the hydrocarbon chain-packing cross-sectional area (a ≅ 2∑ ≅ 40 Å2), lipids possess a high tendency to aggregate into well packed bilayer structures with the acyl-chains oriented perpendicularly to the bilayer plane. Our theoretical data confirm that the double-chain phospholipids may associate themselves into anti-parallel alignment of the polar headgroups (P′22) as well. The hydrophobic acyl-chain effect of phospholipids may modulate the distribution of lipid domains within bilayers that have a large variety of functional roles in cellular metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-227
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Molecular Structure: THEOCHEM
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Aug 4 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Bilayer lipid membrane
  • Computer simulation
  • Hydrophobic acyl-chain effect
  • Lipid domains
  • Phospholipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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