Effect of dipole moment on amphiphile solubility and partition into liquid ordered and liquid disordered phases in lipid bilayers

Renato M.S. Cardoso, Patrícia A.T. Martins, Cristiana V. Ramos, Margarida M. Cordeiro, Ricardo J.B. Leote, Kalbe Razi Naqvi, Winchil L.C. Vaz, Maria João Moreno

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Association of amphiphiles with biomembranes is important for their availability at specific locations in organisms and cells, being critical for their biological function. A prominent role is usually attributed to the hydrophobic effect, and to electrostatic interactions between charged amphiphiles and lipids. This work explores a closely related and complementary aspect, namely the contribution made by dipole moments to the strength of the interactions established. Two xanthene amphiphiles with opposite relative orientations of their dipole and amphiphilic moments have been selected (Rhodamine-C14 and Carboxyfluorescein-C14). The membranes studied have distinct lipid compositions, representing typical cell membrane pools, ranging from internal membranes to the outer and inner leaflet of the plasma membrane. A comprehensive study is reported, including the affinity of the amphiphiles for the different membranes, the stability of the amphiphiles as monomers and their tendency to form small clusters, as well as their transverse location in the membrane. The orientation of the amphiphile dipole moment, which determines whether its interaction with the membrane dipole potential is repulsive or attractive, is found to exert a large influence on the association of the amphiphile with ordered lipid membranes. These interactions are also responsible for the formation of small clusters or stabilization of amphiphile monomers in the membrane. The results obtained allow understanding the prevalence of protein lipidation at the N-terminal for efficient targeting to the plasma membrane, as well as the tendency of GPI-anchored proteins (usually lipidated at the C-terminal) to form small clusters in the membrane ordered domains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number183157
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Amphiphile dipole moment
  • Clustering
  • Lipidated proteins
  • Membrane dipole potential
  • Partition coefficient


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