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Anticancer Agent Edelfosine Exhibits a High Affinity for Cholesterol and Disorganizes Liquid-Ordered Membrane Structures.

Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids (2018-06-21)
Alessio Ausili, Pablo Martínez-Valera, Alejandro Torrecillas, Victoria Gómez-Murcia, Ana M de Godos, Senena Corbalán-García, José A Teruel, Juan C Gómez Fernández

Edelfosine is an anticancer drug with an asymmetric structure because, being a derivative of glycerol, it possesses two hydrophobic substituents of very different lengths. We showed that edelfosine destabilizes liquid-ordered membranes formed by either 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl- sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, sphingomyelin (SM), and cholesterol (1:1:1 molar ratio) or SM and cholesterol (2:1 molar ratio). This was observed by differential scanning calorimetry in which phase transition arises from either of these membrane systems after the addition of edelfosine. The alteration in the liquid-ordered domains was characterized by using a small-angle X-ray diffraction that revealed the formation of gel phases as a consequence of the addition of edelfosine at low temperatures and by a wide-angle X-ray diffraction that confirmed changes in the membranes, indicating the formation of these gel phases. The increase in phase transition derived by the edelfosine addition was further confirmed by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. The effect of edelfosine was compared with that of structurally analogue lipids: platelet-activating factor and 1-palmitoyl-2-acetyl- sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, which also have the capacity of destabilizing liquid-ordered domains, although they are less potent than edelfosine for this activity, and lysophosphatidylcholine, which lacks this capacity. It was concluded that edelfosine may be associated with cholesterol favorably competing with sphingomyelin, and that this sets sphingomyelin free to undergo a phase transition. Finally, the experimental observations can be described by molecular dynamics calculations in terms of intermolecular interaction energies in phospholipid-cholesterol membranes. Higher interaction energies between asymmetric phospholipids and cholesterol than between sphingomyelin and cholesterol were obtained. These results are interesting because they biophysically characterize one of the main molecular mechanisms to trigger apoptosis of the cancer cells.