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Buckling Under Pressure: Curvature-Based Lipid Segregation and Stability Modulation in Cardiolipin-Containing Bilayers

Boyd, Kevin J., Alder, Nathan N., May, Eric R.
Langmuir 2017 v.33 no.27 pp. 6937-6946
cardiolipins, geometry, mechanical properties, mitochondria, molecular dynamics, oxidative phosphorylation, phosphatidylethanolamines, proteins
Mitochondrial metabolic function is affected by the morphology and protein organization of the mitochondrial inner membrane. Cardiolipin (CL) is a unique tetra-acyl lipid that is involved in the maintenance of the highly curved shape of the mitochondrial inner membrane as well as spatial organization of the proteins necessary for respiration and oxidative phosphorylation. Cardiolipin has been suggested to self-organize into lipid domains due to its inverted conical molecular geometry, though the driving forces for this organization are not fully understood. In this work, we use coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to study the mechanical properties and lipid dynamics in heterogeneous bilayers both with and without CL, as a function of membrane curvature. We find that incorporation of CL increases bilayer deformability and that CL becomes highly enriched in regions of high negative curvature. We further show that another mitochondrial inverted conical lipid, phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), does not partition or increase the deformability of the membrane in a significant manner. Therefore, CL appears to possess some unique characteristics that cannot be inferred simply from molecular geometry considerations.