Structure and Interactions between Charged Lipid Membranes in the Presence of Multivalent Ions

Lea Fink, Ariel Steiner, Or Szekely, Pablo Szekely, Uri Raviv*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


When aqueous salt solutions contain multivalent ions (like Ca2+ or Mg2+), strong correlation effects may lead to ion-bridging, net attraction, and tight-coupling between like-charged interfaces. To examine the effects of surface charge density, temperature, salt type, and salt concentration on the structures of tightly coupled charged interfaces, we have used mixed lipid membranes, containing either saturated or unsaturated tails in the presence of multivalent ions. We discovered that tightly coupled membrane lamellar phases, dominated by attractive interactions, coexisted with weakly coupled lamellar phases, dominated by repulsive interactions. To control the membrane charge density, we mixed lipids with negatively charged headgroups, DLPS and DOPS, with their zwitterionic analogue having the same tails, DLPC and DOPC, respectively. Using solution X-ray scattering we measured the lamellar repeat distance, D, at different ion concentrations, temperatures, and membrane charge densities. The multivalent ions tightly coupled the mixed lipid bilayers whose charged lipid molar fraction was between 0.1 and 1. The repeat distance of the tightly coupled phase was about 4 nm for the DLPS/DLPC mixtures and about 5 nm for the DOPS/DOPC mixtures. In this phase, the repeat distance slightly increased with increasing temperature and decreased with increasing charge density. When the molar fraction of charged lipid was 0.1 or 0.25, a less tightly coupled phase coexisted with the tightly coupled phase. The weakly coupled lamellar phase had significantly larger D values, although they were consistently shorter than the D values in monovalent salt solutions with similar screening lengths.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)9694-9703
Number of pages10
Issue number30
StatePublished - 30 Jul 2019

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© 2019 American Chemical Society.


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