© 2019 Biophysical Society Methanol is a common solubilizing agent used to study transmembrane proteins/peptides in biological and synthetic membranes. Using small angle neutron scattering and a strategic contrast-matching scheme, we show that methanol has a major impact on lipid dynamics. Under increasing methanol concentrations, isotopically distinct 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine large unilamellar vesicle populations exhibit increased mixing. Specifically, 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine transfer and flip-flop kinetics display linear and exponential rate enhancements, respectively. Ultimately, methanol is capable of influencing the structure-function relationship associated with bilayer composition (e.g., lipid asymmetry). The use of methanol as a carrier solvent, despite better simulating some biological conditions (e.g., antimicrobial attack), can help misconstrue lipid scrambling as the action of proteins or peptides, when in actuality it is a combination of solvent and biological agent. As bilayer compositional stability is crucial to cell survival and protein reconstitution, these results highlight the importance of methanol, and solvents in general, in biomembrane and proteolipid studies.
Nguyen, Michael H.L.; DiPasquale, Mitchell; Rickeard, Brett W.; Stanley, Christopher B.; Kelley, Elizabeth G.; and Marquardt, Drew. (2019). Methanol Accelerates DMPC Flip-Flop and Transfer: A SANS Study on Lipid Dynamics. Biophysical Journal, 116 (5), 755-759.