Gel phase preference of ganglioside GM1 at low concentration in two-component, two-phase phosphatidylcholine bilayers depends upon the ceramide moiety

Paola Palestini, Margaretta Allietta, S. Sonnino, Guido Tettamanti, Thomas E. Thompson, Thomas W. Tillack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In two-component phosphatidylcholine bilayers with coexisting liquidand Pβ, gel phases, the distribution between phases of low concentrations of glycosphingolipids can be determined by freeze-etch electron microscopy after labeling the glycolipid with a suitable protein. We have found that the distribution depends upon the glycosphingolipid species (Rock, P. et al., (1991) Biochemistry 30, 19-25). Using this technique with cholera toxin as the protein label and bilayers formed from dipalmitoyl- and dielaidoylphosphatidylcholine (1:1) containing <1 mol% GM1, we have studied the distribution of a family of GM1 homologues differing in the acyl chain and sphingoid base moieties. The GM1 preference for the Pβ ripple phase decreases with decreasing acyl chain length and increasing unsaturation. GM1 with either a C18:1 or C20:1 sphingoid base shows similar distributions in liquid and gel phases. When the molecules are preferentially found in the Pβ, phase, they are positioned along unique loci in both Λ and Λ/2 forms of the ripple structure. This localization and acyl chain dependence reflect the volume, shape and localization of molecular packing defects in the Pβ, phase. The ganglioside inclusions stabilize the Pβ, phase and form compositional domains of unique topography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-230
Number of pages10
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 4 1995



  • AGM1
  • asialo-GM1
  • DEPC
  • dielaidoylphosphatidylcholine
  • dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine
  • DPPC
  • Electron microscopy
  • fluorescence recovery after photobleaching
  • FRAP
  • Freeze-etch
  • Galβ1 → 3GalNAcβ1 → 4Gal(3← 2αNeu5Ac)β1 → 4G1cβ1 → 1Cer
  • Ganglioside
  • Glycosphingolipid
  • glycosylphosphatidylinositol
  • GM1
  • GPI
  • high-performance liquid chromatography
  • HPLC
  • Liposome
  • tetrahydrofuran
  • THF
  • thin-layer chromatography
  • TLC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology

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