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Biophysical Studies of Lipid Membranes by Solid State NMR and Molecular Dynamics Simulations

Publication Date
  • Ddc:570
  • Biology
  • Physics


Biological membranes separate the cell interior from the outside and have diverse functions from signal transduction, apoptosis to transportations of ions and small molecules in and out of the cell. Most of these functions are fulfilled by proteins incorporated in the membrane. However, lipids as the main component of membrane not only serve as structural element for bilayer formation but they are also directly involved e.g. signalling processes and bilayer properties are important to mediate protein interactions. To fully understand the role of lipids, it is necessary to develop a molecular understanding of how certain membrane components modify bulk bilayer structure and dynamics. Membranes are known to have many different motions in different conditions and time scales. Temperature, pH, water content and many other conditions change membrane dynamics in a high degree. In addition to this, time scales of motions in membranes vary from ns to ms range corresponding to fast motion and slow motion, respectively. Therefore, membranes are needed to be studied systematically by varying the conditions and using methods to investigate motions in various time scales separately. The aim of this study was therefore perform a combined solid-state NMR / molecular dynamics study on model membranes. Different substrates, such as potential drugs, polarizing agents and signaling lipids were incorporated into bilayers and their location within the membrane and their effect onto the membrane was probed. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), pirinixic acid derivatives, ceramides and polarizing agents were the substrates for membranes in this study. There were several experimental methods that were applied in order to investigate effects of these substrates on membrane dynamics. Different kind of phospholipids including POPC, DMPC and DPPC were used. In addition to experimental work, with the information gathered from solid state NMR experiments molecular dynamics simulations were performed to obtain more information about the membranes at the molecular level. As a result, combination of solid-state NMR with molecular dynamics simulations provides very systematic way of investigating membrane dynamics in a large range of time scales. Pirinixic acid derivatives were special interest of this study because of their activity on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) as an agonist as well as on enzymes of microsomal prostaglandin E2 synthase-1 (PGE2s) -1 and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) as dual inhibitor. Two potent pirinixic acid derivatives, 2-(4-chloro-6-(quinolin-6-ylamino)pyrimidin-2-ylthio)octanoic acid (compound 2) and 2-(4-chloro-6-(quinolin-6-ylamino)pyrimidin-2-ylthio)octanoate (compound 3), have been worked and their insertion depts were investigated by combining of solid state NMR and molecular dynamics simulations. Both experimental and theoretical results pointed out that compound 3 was inserted the phospholipid bilayer more deeply than 2. NSAIDs – lipid mixtures have been also studied here. It is known that consumption of NSAIDs as in mixture with lipids results much fewer side effects than consumption of the drugs alone. Thus, it is crucial to understand interactions of NSAIDs with lipids and investigate the possible complex formation of drugs with lipids. In this study, interactions of three widely used NSAIDs, ibuprofen, diclofenac and piroxicam, with DPPC were investigated by solid-state NMR. 1H and 31P NMR results depicted that ibuprofen and diclofenac had interactions with lipids, which is an indication of drug-lipid complex formation whereas piroxicam didn’t show any interactions with lipids suggesting that no complex formation occurred in the case of piroxicam. Ceramides are known to play key roles in many cell processes and many studies showed that the functions of ceramides are related with the ceramide effects on biological membranes. Therefore, in this study, influences of ceramides on biophysics of lipid bilayers were investigated by using various solid state NMR techniques and molecular dynamics simulations. Results from molecular dynamics simulations clearly showed that ceramide and lipids have strong interactions. More evidences about ceramide-lipid interactions were provided from 1H and 14N NMR results. In addition, it was indicated by both simulation and experimental methods that ceramide increased the rigidity of DMPC by increasing chain order parameters. BTbk is a biradical, which is used as polarizing agent for dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) experiments and found to be more efficient than other widely used polarizing agents such as TOTAPOL. Since it is a hydrophobic compound, which prefers to stay inside lipid bilayer it is important to investigate the location and orientation of bTbk along the bilayer in order to understand its enhancement profile in DNP measurements. In this study, both NMR relaxation time measurements and molecular dynamics simulations revealed that bTbk tends to stay more close to hydrophobic chain of lipids than the interfacial part of lipids at bilayer surface. In the first part of this work, a brief introduction on lipid membranes as well as a theoretical summary on both methods of solid-state NMR and molecular dynamics simulations is given. Then, in the second part methodology is introduced for both solid-state NMR spectrometer and theoretical calculations. Afterwards, results of different membrane systems are discussed in the following parts for both solid state NMR and MD. Finally, in the last part, a summary and the conclusion of the overall results together with some future plans are explained.

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