Imperial College London

Dr Nick Brooks

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Chemistry

Senior Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 2677n.brooks Website




207JMolecular Sciences Research HubWhite City Campus






BibTex format

author = {Cornell, CE and McCarthy, NLC and Levental, KR and Levental, I and Brooks, NJ and Keller, SL},
doi = {10.1016/j.bpj.2017.06.066},
journal = {Biophysical Journal},
pages = {1--13},
title = {Lengths of n-alcohols govern how Lo-Ld mixing temperatures shift in synthetic and cell-derived membranes},
url = {},
volume = {113},
year = {2017}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - A persistent challenge in membrane biophysics has been to quantitatively predict how membrane physical properties change upon addition of new amphiphiles (e.g., lipids, alcohols, peptides, or proteins) in order to assess whether the changes are large enough to plausibly result in biological ramifications. Because of their roles as general anesthetics, n-alcohols are perhaps the best-studied amphiphiles of this class. When n-alcohols are added to model and cell membranes, changes in membrane parameters tend to be modest. One striking exception is found in the large decrease in liquid-liquid miscibility transition temperatures (Tmix) observed when short-chain n-alcohols are incorporated into giant plasma membrane vesicles (GPMVs). Coexisting liquid-ordered and liquid-disordered phases are observed at temperatures below Tmix in GPMVs as well as in giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) composed of ternary mixtures of a lipid with a low melting temperature, a lipid with a high melting temperature, and cholesterol. Here, we find that when GUVs of canonical ternary mixtures are formed in aqueous solutions of short-chain n-alcohols (n ≤ 10), Tmix increases relative to GUVs in water. This shift is in the opposite direction from that reported for cell-derived GPMVs. The increase in Tmix is robust across GUVs of several types of lipids, ratios of lipids, types of short-chain n-alcohols, and concentrations of n-alcohols. However, as chain lengths of n-alcohols increase, nonmonotonic shifts in Tmix are observed. Alcohols with chain lengths of 10–14 carbons decrease Tmix in ternary GUVs of dioleoyl-PC/dipalmitoyl-PC/cholesterol, whereas 16 carbons increase Tmix again. Gray et al. observed a similar influence of the length of n-alcohols on the direction of the shift in Tmix. These results are consistent with a scenario in which the relative partitioning of n-alcohols between liquid-ordered and liquid-disordered phases evolves as the chain length of the n-alcohol increases.
AU - Cornell,CE
AU - McCarthy,NLC
AU - Levental,KR
AU - Levental,I
AU - Brooks,NJ
AU - Keller,SL
DO - 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.06.066
EP - 13
PY - 2017///
SN - 1542-0086
SP - 1
TI - Lengths of n-alcohols govern how Lo-Ld mixing temperatures shift in synthetic and cell-derived membranes
T2 - Biophysical Journal
UR -
UR -
UR -
VL - 113
ER -