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

Crystallization of phosphatidylserine bilayers induced by lithium.

Utilizing differential scanning calorimetry and x-ray diffraction, 1,2-dimyristoyl-L-glycero-3-phospho-L-serine (DMPS) was shown to form hydrated bilayer membrane structures exhibiting a gel leads to liquid crystalline transition at 39 degrees C (delta H = 7.2 kcal/ mol). Addition of up to molar concentrations of the alkali halides NaCl, KCl, Rl Cl, and CsCl produced relatively minor changes in DMPS bilayer structure or stability. For example, in the presence of 0.5 M NaCl, the transition temperature (Tc = 42 degrees C) and transition enthalpy (delta H = 7.0 kcal/ mol) show only minor changes. In marked contrast, addition of LiCl results in "'crystallization" of the DMPS bilayer membrane structure. At 0.5 M LiCl, the crystalline DMPS exhibits a bilayer gel leads to liquid crystal transition at 89 degrees C accompanied by a high enthalpy change, delta H = 16.0 kcal/ mol. Thus, Li+ induces an isothermal crystallization of DMPS bilayers, the hydrocarbon chains adopting a more ordered packing mode than the "hexagonal" arrangement of the gel state. In view of the widespread use of lithium in the treatment of manic-depressive illness, we also raise the possibility that interaction of Li+ with anionic membrane phospholipids could play a role in its pharmacological action.[1]


  1. Crystallization of phosphatidylserine bilayers induced by lithium. Hauser, H., Shipley, G.G. J. Biol. Chem. (1981) [Pubmed]
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