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Characterization of the interactions between synthetic nematic LCs and model cell membranes

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Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) was used to characterize interactions of synthetic LCs, 4-pentyl-4'-cyanobiphenyl (5CB) and TL205 (a mixture of cyclohexane-fluorinated biphenyls and fluorinated terphenyls) with simple mimics of cell membranes. The investigation was motivated by reports that living cells can be placed into contact with TL205 without apparent toxicity, whereas contact of cells with 5CB leads to cell death. The tendency was examined for 5CB and TL205 to spontaneously partition into and influence the organization for model cell membranes composed of phospholipids. Upon contact of an aqueous dispersion of DPPC liposomes with neat LC for 4 h, 5CB partitioned into the liposomes at a weight ratio of 5:1 DPPC:5CB, whereas TL205 partitioned at a ratio of 310:1 DPPC:TL205. DSC endotherms indicated that the 5CB spontaneously partitioned into the liposomes was far more perturbing than TL205. DSC endotherms of DPPC bilayers containing the same concentration of either 5CB or TL205 also revealed 5CB to be more perturbing than TL205. The effect of up to 7.8 wt % of TL205 was small, resulting in a shift in the melting transition from 41.4°C to 40.1°C and a minor change in peak width, indicating only minor effects on the organization of the bilayer. These effects are similar to those caused by cholesterol in DPPC bilayers. In contrast, 5CB shifted the DPPC melting transition from 41.4°C to ∼36°C and increased the width of the transition peak by a factor of ten, indicating a destabilization of the ordered phase in the bilayer and a disruption of the cooperative nature of the gel-to-LC transition of the phospholipid bilayer. Taken together, the results demonstrate that 5CB and TL205 differ significantly in their interactions with model cell membranes, which suggests one possible origin of their different toxicities toward cells.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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