Electroporation relates to the cascade of events that follows the application of high electric fields and that leads to cell membrane permeabilization. Despite a wide range of applications, little is known about the electroporation threshold, which varies with membrane lipid composition. Here, using molecular dynamics simulations, we studied the response of dipalmitoyl-phosphatidylcholine, diphytanoyl-phosphocholine-ester and diphytanoyl-phosphocholine-ether lipid bilayers to an applied electric field. Comparing between lipids with acyl chains and methyl branched chains and between lipids with ether and ester linkages, which change drastically the membrane dipole potential, we found that in both cases the electroporation threshold differed substantially. We show, for the first time, that the electroporation threshold of a lipid bilayer depends not only on the “electrical” properties of the membrane, i.e., its dipole potential, but also on the properties of its component hydrophobic tails.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 19, 2013
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