The sphingolipid ceramides are known to influence lipid lateral organization in biological membranes. In particular, ceramide-induced alterations of microdomains can be involved in several cell functions, ranging from apoptosis to immune response. We used a combined approach of atomic force microscopy, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, and confocal fluorescence imaging to investigate the effects of ceramides in model membranes of biological relevance. Our results show that physiological quantities of ceramide in sphingomyelin/dioleoylphosphatidylcholine/cholesterol supported bilayers lead to a significant rearrangement of lipid lateral organization. Our experimental setup allowed a simultaneous characterization of both structural and dynamic modification of membrane microdomains, induced by the presence of ceramide. Formation of similar ceramide-enriched domains and, more general, alterations of lipid-lipid interactions can be of crucial importance for the biological function of cell membranes.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 2006|