Molecular packing parameters of bipolar lipids

F. Cavagnetto, A. Relini, Z. Mirghani, A. Gliozzi, D. Bertoia, A. Gambacorta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The bipolar lipid fractions extracted from the thermophilic archaeobacterium Sulfolobus solfataricus have different chemical structures and geometrical shapes. The conditions which lead to the formation of vesicles were investigated in order to study the self-assembly of these molecules. Such conditions are fulfilled when an appropriate mixture of two different molecular species (both bipolar or bipolar and monopolar) is used. According to the theory introduced by Israelachvili and co-workers, lipid self-assembly results from the balance of interaction free energy, entropy and molecular geometry. We have shown that this theory can be extended to bipolar lipids, in spite of their more complex nature, and the experimental results obtained combining 1H-NMR, light scattering and entrapped volume techniques closely match theoretical expectations. To carry out calculations, it was necessary to introduce hypotheses about the disposition of bipolar molecules in the vesicle membrane. These hypotheses have been tested indirectly by measuring the transport properties mediated by carriers or channels, whose transport mechanism can be considered to be a probe of the membrane structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 21 1992


  • Bipolar lipid
  • Ionic transport
  • Molecular packing parameter
  • Monopolar-bipolar lipid vesicle
  • Self assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology


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