Fluorinated Alcohols’ Effects on Lipid Bilayer Properties
© 2018 Fluorinated alcohols (fluoroalcohols) have physicochemical properties that make them excellent solvents of peptides, proteins, and other compounds. Like other alcohols, fluoroalcohols also alter membrane protein function and lipid bilayer properties and stability. Thus, the questions arise: how potent are fluoroalcohols as lipid-bilayer-perturbing compounds, could small residual amounts that remain after adding compounds dissolved in fluoroalcohols alter lipid bilayer properties sufficiently to affect membranes and membrane protein function, and do they behave like other alcohols? To address these questions, we used a gramicidin-based fluorescence assay to determine the bilayer-modifying potency of selected fluoroalcohols: trifluoroethanol (TFE), HFIP, and perfluoro-tert-butanol (PFTB). These fluoroalcohols alter bilayer properties in the low (PFTB) to high (TFE) mM range. Using the same assay, we determined the bilayer partitioning of the alcohols. When referenced to the aqueous concentrations, the fluoroalcohols are more bilayer perturbing than their nonfluorinated counterparts, with the largest fluoroalcohol, PFTB, being the most potent and the smallest, TFE, the least. When referenced to the mole fractions in the membrane, however, the fluoroalcohols have equal or lesser bilayer-perturbing potency than their nonfluorinated counterparts, with TFE being more bilayer perturbing than PFTB. We compared the fluoroalcohols’ molecular level bilayer interactions using atomistic molecular dynamics simulations and showed how, at higher concentrations, they can cause bilayer breakdown using absorbance measurements and31P nuclear magnetic resonance.
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