Sphingomyelin/phosphatidylcholine and cholesterol interactions studied by imaging mass spectrometry

Leiliang Zheng, Carolyn M. McQuaw, Andrew G. Ewing, Nicholas Winograd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Label-free imaging mass spectrometry is utilized the first time to study lipid-lipid interactions in a model membrane system. Ternary lipid mixtures of cholesterol (CH), sphingomyelin (SM), and phosphatidylcholine (PC) on supported Langmuir-Blodgett films are investigated as a mimic of the cellular membrane. The unique chemical specificity and imaging capability allow identification and localization of each lipid molecule in the membranes. The SM and PC in each ternary mixture vary in their acyl chain saturation with both, either, or neither one double bonded at the same position of their acyl chain. For the ternary mixtures with SM and PC both saturated or unsaturated, all the lipids are evenly distributed in the molecule-specific images. However, domain structures were observed for the two mixtures with either SM or PC unsaturated. In both films, the saturated lipid, whether it is SM or PC, colocalized with CH while the unsaturated lipid was excluded from the CH domains. These results strongly suggest that acyl chain saturation, rather than the specific interactions between SM and CH, is the dominating factor for SM colocalization with CH in the raft areas of the cellular membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15730-15731
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 26 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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