Membrane models of E. coli containing cyclic moieties in the aliphatic lipid chain

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Most molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of bacterial membranes simplify the membrane by composing it of only 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (POPE) or in some cases with1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol (POPG) as well. However, an important constituent of bacterial membranes are lipids with a cyclopropane ring in the acyl chain. We developed a complex membrane that reflects the diverse population of lipids within E. coli cytoplasmic membranes, including cyclic lipids. Differences between the deuterium order profile of cyclic and monounsaturated lipids are observed. Furthermore, inclusion of the ring decreases the surface density of the bilayer and produces a more rigid membrane as compared to POPE/POPG membranes. Additionally, the diverse acyl chain length creates a thinner bilayer which better matches the hydrophobic thickness of E. coli transmembrane proteins. We believe the complex membrane is more accurate and suggest the use of it in MD simulations rather than simple membranes.