Isotropically tumbling discoidal bicelles are a useful biophysical tool for the study of lipids and proteins by NMR, dynamic light scattering, and small-angle X-ray scattering. Isotropically tumbling bicelles present a low-curvature central region, typically enriched with DMPC in the lamellar state, and a highly curved detergent rim, typically composed of DHPC. In this report, we study the impact of the partitioning and induced curvature of a few molecules of a foreign lipid on the bicelle size, structure, and curvature. Previous approaches for studying curvature have focused on macroscopic and bulk properties of membrane curvature. In the approach presented here, we show that the conical shape of the DOPE lipid and the inverted-conical shape of the DPC lipid induce measurable curvature changes in the bicelle size. Bicelles with an average of 1.8 molecules of DOPE have marked increases in the size of bicelles, consistent with negative membrane curvature in the central region of the bicelle. With bicelle curvature models, radii of curvature on the order of −100 Å and below are measured, with a greater degree of curvature observed in the more pliable Lα state above the phase-transition temperature of DMPC. Bicelles with an average of 1.8 molecules of DPC are reduced in size, consistent with positive membrane curvature in the rim, and at higher temperatures, DPC is distributed in the central region to form mixed-micelle structures. We use translational and rotational diffusion measurements by NMR, size-exclusion chromatography, and structural models to quantitate changes in bicelle size, curvature, and lipid dynamics.
Citation: Draney AW, Smrt ST, Lorieau JL. (2014) Use of Isotropically Tumbling Bicelles to Measure Curvature Induced by Membrane Components. Langmuir. 30: 11723-11733. doi: 10.1021/la5030668.