Lipid monolayers exist in several biological systems, including the stratum corneum of the skin, the fluid tear film of the eye, the Eustachian tube of the ear, and airway and alveolar pulmonary surfactants. In this paper, the monolayer-to-bilayer transition was studied using dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) as the model. Depositing DPPC organic solvent solutions in excess at an air:buffer interface led to the formation of elongated structures which could be imaged on carbon grids by transmission electron microscopy. The structures appeared to be DPPC folds protruding into the sol. The structures were frequently ordered with respect to one another, suggesting that they arose during lateral compression due to excess DPPC and are characteristic of a type of monolayer collapse phase. In some cases, series of short folds in an extended line and series of vesicles in line or parallel to the folds were observed. This suggests the elongated folds are unstable and can resolve by forming vesicles. Fold formation occurred at defined lipid concentrations above which more vesicles were observed. Surfactant protein-A did not influence fold or vesicle formation but bound to the edges of these structures preferentially. It is concluded that DPPC monolayers can form bilayers spontaneously in the absence of surfactant apoproteins, other proteins or agents.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 1, 2001
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