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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Polarity of lipid bilayers. A fluorescence investigation.

Through steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence experiments, the polarity of the bilayers of egg phosphatidylcholine vesicles was studied by means of the solvatochromic 2-anthroyl fluorophore which we have recently introduced for investigating the environmental micropolarity of membranes and which was incorporated synthetically in phosphatidylcholine molecules (anthroyl-PC) in the form of 8-(2-anthroyl)octanoic acid. Fluorescence quenching experiments carried out with N,N-dimethylaniline and 12-doxylstearic acid as quenchers showed that the 2-anthroyl chromophore was located in depth in the hydrophobic region of the lipid bilayer corresponding to the C9-C16 segment of the acyl chains. Steady-state fluorescence spectroscopy revealed a nonstructured and red-shifted (lambda em(max) = 464 nm) spectrum for the probe in egg-PC bilayers, which greatly differed from the structured and blue (lambda em(max) = 404 nm) spectrum the fluorophore was shown to display in n-hexane. While the fluorescence decays of the fluorophore in organic solvents were monoexponential, three exponentials were required to account for the fluorescence decays of anthroyl-PC in egg-PC vesicles, with average characteristic times of 1.5 ns, 5.5 ns, and 20 ns. These lifetime values were independent of the emission wavelength used. Addition of cholesterol to the lipid did not alter these tau values. One just observed an increase in the fractional population of the 1.5-ns short-living species detrimental to the population of the 20-ns long-living ones. These observations enabled time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy measurements to be achieved in the case of the 1/1 ( mol/ mol) egg-PC/cholesterol mixture. Three distinct decay associated spectra (DAS) were recorded, with maximum emission wavelengths, respectively, of 410 nm, 440 nm, and 477 nm for the 1.5-ns, 6-ns, and 20-ns lifetimes found in this system. On account of the properties and the polarity scale previously established for the 2-anthroyl chromophore in organic solvents, these data strongly suggest the occurrence of three distinct excited states for anthroyl-PC in egg-PC bilayers, corresponding to three environments for the 2-anthroyl chromophore, differing in polarity. The lifetime of 1.5 ns and the corresponding structured and blue (lambda em(max) = 410 nm) DAS account for a hydrophobic environment, with an apparent dielectric constant of 2, which is that expected for the hydrophobic core of the lipid bilayer.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)[1]


  1. Polarity of lipid bilayers. A fluorescence investigation. Pérochon, E., Lopez, A., Tocanne, J.F. Biochemistry (1992) [Pubmed]
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