Laurdan in Fluid Bilayers: Position and Structural Sensitivity

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Laurdan (2-dimethylamino-6-lauroylnaphthalene) is a hydrophobic fluorescent probe widely used in lipid systems. This probe was shown to be highly sensitive to lipid phases, and this sensitivity related to the probe microenvironment polarity and viscosity. In the present study, Laurdan was incorporated in 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-[phospho-rac-(1-glycerol)] (DPPG), which has a phase transition around 41°C, and DLPC (1,2-dilauroyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine), which is in the fluid phase at all temperatures studied. The temperature dependence of Laurdan fluorescent emission was analyzed via the decomposition into two gaussian bands, a short- and a long-wavelength band, corresponding to a non-relaxed and a water-relaxed excited state, respectively. As expected, Laurdan fluorescence is highly sensitive to DPPG gel-fluid transition. However, it is shown that Laurdan fluorescence, in DLPC, is also dependent on the temperature, though the bilayer phase does not change. This is in contrast to the rather similar fluorescent emission obtained for the analogous hydrophilic probe, Prodan (2-dimethylamino-6-propionylnaphthalene), when free in aqueous solution, over the same range of temperature. Therefore, Laurdan fluorescence seems to be highly dependent on the lipid bilayer packing, even for fluid membranes. This is supported by Laurdan fluorescence anisotropy and spin labels incorporated at different positions in the fluid lipid bilayer of DLPC. The latter were used both as structural probes for bilayer packing, and as Laurdan fluorescence quenchers. The results confirm the high sensitivity of Laurdan fluorescence emission to membrane packing, and indicate a rather shallow position for Laurdan in the membrane.

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