Using molecular dynamics simulations, we have explored the effect of asymmetric lipids—specifically those that contain one polyunsaturated (PUFA) and one saturated fatty acid chain—on phase separation in heterogeneous membranes. These lipids are prevalent in neuronal membranes, particularly in synaptic membranes, where the Parkinson’s disease protein α-synuclein (αS) is found. We have therefore explored the relationship between asymmetric, PUFA-containing lipids, and αS. The simulations show that asymmetric lipids partition to the liquid disordered (Ld) phase of canonical raft mixtures because of the highly disordered PUFA chain. In the case of a membrane built to mimic the lipid composition of a synaptic vesicle, the PUFA-containing asymmetric lipids completely disrupt phase separation. Because αS is positively charged, we show that it partitions with negatively charged lipids, regardless of the saturation state of the chains. Additionally, αS preferentially associates with the polyunsaturated fatty acid tails of both charged and neutral lipids. This is a consequence of those chains’ ability to accommodate the void beneath the amphipathic helix.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis.August 2018. Major: Biomedical Engineering. Advisor: Jonathan Sachs. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 26 pages.
Polyunsaturated chains in asymmetric lipids disorder raft mixtures and preferentially associate with α-Synuclein.
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