The asymmetric lipid composition in plasma membranes within the inner leaflet is not typically suitable for domain formation. Thus elucidation of the likelihood of the formation or stability of a raft-like domain in the inner leaflet is necessary. Herein we investigated the phase behavior of asymmetric membranes using coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations. The lipid leaflet comprising dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC) and cholesterol (Chol) does not typically show well-developed domains in symmetric bilayer membranes; however, it does separate into liquid ordered (Lo) and liquid disordered (Ld) phases when the opposing leaflet containing sphingomyelin (SM), DOPC, and Chol demonstrates domain formation. We determine that interdigitated acyl chains modulated the partitioning of Chol in the opposing leaflet, resulting in phase separation. Similarly, the acyl chain length of SM within the opposing leaflet affected the phase behavior of the leaflet. Our results reveal the crucial role of interdigitation in determining the phase status in asymmetric membranes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry