Triglyceride Blisters in Lipid Bilayers: Implications for Lipid Droplet Biogenesis and the Mobile Lipid Signal in Cancer Cell Membranes

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Abstract

Triglycerides have a limited solubility, around 3%, in phosphatidylcholine lipid bilayers. Using millisecond-scale course grained molecular dynamics simulations, we show that the model lipid bilayer can accommodate a higher concentration of triolein (TO) than earlier anticipated, by sequestering triolein molecules to the bilayer center in the form of a disordered, isotropic, mobile neutral lipid aggregate, at least 17 nm in diameter, which forms spontaneously, and remains stable on at least the microsecond time scale. The results give credence to the hotly debated existence of mobile neutral lipid aggregates of unknown function present in malignant cells, and to the early biogenesis of lipid droplets accommodated between the two leaflets of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. The TO aggregates give the bilayer a blister-like appearance, and will hinder the formation of multi-lamellar phases in model, and possibly living membranes. The blisters will result in anomalous membrane probe partitioning, which should be accounted for in the interpretation of probe-related measurements.
Original languageEnglish
JournalP L o S One
Volume5
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)e12811
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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