Department of Chemistry, Wabash College, 301 West Wabash Avenue, Crawfordsville, Indiana 47933, USA.
We have calculated the lateral pressure profile from well-converged, experimentally validated, molecular dynamics simulations of hydrated lipid bilayer membranes containing highly polyunsaturated fatty acids. The three simulations, each 30 ns in length, contain omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and a mixture of omega-3 fatty acids and cholesterol and were continued from previously published simulations that demonstrated excellent agreement with a wide variety of experimental measurements. We find that the distribution of lateral stress within the hydrophobic core of the membrane is sensitively dependent on the degree of chain unsaturation and on the presence of cholesterol. Replacing omega-3 fatty acids with omega-6 chains, or incorporating cholesterol into the membrane, shifts the repulsive lateral chain pressure away from the lipid/water interface toward the bilayer interior. This may support a previously proposed mechanism by which lipid composition may affect conformational equilibrium for integral membrane proteins.
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