Acta Physico-Chimica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (8): 840-849.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201811016

• ARTICLE • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Concentration Dependent Effects of Ca2+ and Mg2+ on the Phosphatidylethanolamine-Phosphatidylglycerol Bilayer

Tao ZHANG1,Yunguang QIU2,3,Qichao LUO2,Xi CHENG2,Lifen ZHAO2,Xin YAN2,4,Bo PENG2,Hualiang JIANG1,2,3,*(),Huaiyu YANG2,3,*()   

  1. 1 School of Pharmacy, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai 200237, P. R. China
    2 Drug Discovery and Design Center, State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Science, Shanghai 201203, P. R. China
    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, P. R. China
    4 School of Life Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai 201210, P. R. China
  • Received:2018-11-12 Accepted:2018-12-31 Published:2019-01-03
  • Contact: Hualiang JIANG,Huaiyu YANG;
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21422208);the Special Program for Applied Research on Super Computation of the Applied Research on Super Computation of the NSFC-Guangdong Joint Fund(U1501501)


Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions are the main divalent cations in living cells and play vital roles in the structure and function of biological membranes. To date, the differences in the effects of these two ions on the Escherichia coli (E. coli) inner membrane at various concentrations remain unknown. Here, the effects of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions on a mixed lipid bilayer composed of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (POPE) and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol (POPG) in a 3 : 1 ratio (mol/mol), which mimics the E. coli inner membrane, were quantitatively differentiated at different concentrations by dynamic light scattering (DLS), zeta potential measurements and all-atom molecular dynamics (AA-MD) simulations. The DLS results demonstrated that the POPE/POPG liposomes were homogeneous and monodisperse in solutions with Ca2+ or Mg2+ ion concentrations of 0 and 1 mmol∙L-1. As the Ca2+ or Mg2+ ion concentration was increased to 5-100 mmol∙L-1, lipid aggregation or the fusion of unilamellar liposomes occurred in the ion solutions. The zeta potential measurements showed that both the Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions had overcharging effects on the negatively charged POPE/POPG liposomes. The AA-MD simulation results indicated that the Ca2+ ions irreversibly adsorbed on the membranes when the simulation time was longer than 100 ns, while the Mg2+ ions were observed to dynamically adsorb on and desorb from the membranes at various concentrations. These results are consistent with the DLS and zeta potential experiments. The average numbers of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions in the first coordination shell of the oxygen atoms of the phosphate, carbonyl and hydroxyl groups of POPE and POPG (i.e., the first coordination numbers) in the pure membrane and membranes containing 5 and 100 mmol∙L-1 ions were calculated from the radial distribution functions. The results indicated that the primary binding site of these two ions on POPE and POPG at the concentrations studied was the negatively charged phosphate group. Thus, these results might explain the overcharging effects of both the Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions on the POPE/POPG liposomes. Moreover, as the Ca2+ concentration increased, the area per lipid of the lipid bilayers decreased, and the membrane thickness increased, while the Mg2+ ions had negligible effects on these membrane parameters. In addition, these ions had different effects on the orientation of the lipid head groups. These simulation results may be used to provide the possible explanations for the differences between Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions in DLS and zeta potential measurements at the atomic level. The experimental results and MD simulations provide insight into various biological processes regulated by divalent cations, such as membrane fusion.

Key words: Divalent cation, Lipid bilayers, Dynamic light scattering, Zeta potential, Molecular dynamics simulation, Interaction


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