Biochimica et biophysica acta

The effect of long-chain bases on polysialic acid-mediated membrane interactions.

PMID 21616054


Negatively-charged polysialic acid (polySia) chains are usually membrane-bound and are often expressed on the surface of neuroinvasive bacterial cells, neural cells, and tumor cells. PolySia can mediate both repulsive and attractive cis interactions between membrane components, and trans interactions between membranes. Positively-charged long-chain bases are widely present in cells, are often localized in membranes and can function as bioactive lipids. Here we use Langmuir monolayer technique, fluorescence spectroscopy and electron microscopy of lipid vesicles to study the role of a simple long-chain base, octadecylamine (ODA), in both cis and trans interactions mediated by polySia in model membranes composed of ODA and dioleoylphospatidycholine (DOPC). When added free to an aqueous solution, polySia increases the collapse pressure of ODA/DOPC monolayers, reduces the effect of ODA on the limiting molecular area, inverses the values of excess area per molecule and of excess free energy of mixing from positive to negative, and induces fusion of ODA/DOPC vesicles. These results suggest that a polySia chain can act as a multi-bridge that mediates cis interactions between different components of a lipid membrane, disrupts membrane aggregates, and mediates trans interactions between lipids in apposing membranes. These observations imply that polySia in cellular systems can act in a similar way.