Zwitterionic lipid assemblies: Molecular dynamics studies of monolayers, bilayers, and vesicles using a new coarse grain force field

Wataru Shinoda, Russell DeVane, Michael L. Klein

J. Phys. Chem. B 114, 6836-6849 (2010).

A new coarse-grained (CG) intermolecular force field is presented for a series of zwitterionic lipids. The model is an extension of our previous work on nonionic surfactants and is designed to reproduce experimental surface/interfacial properties as well as distribution functions from all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Using simple functional forms, the force field parameters are optimized for multiple lipid molecules, simultaneously. The resulting CG lipid bilayers have reasonable molecular areas, chain order parameters, and elastic properties. The computed surface pressure vs. area (pi-A) curve for a DPPC monolayer demonstrates a significant improvement over the previous CG models. The DPPC monolayer has a longer persistence length than a PEG lipid monolayer, exhibiting a long lived curved monolayer surface under negative tension. The bud ejected from an oversaturated DPPC monolayer has a large bicelle-like structure, which is different from the micellar bud formed from an oversaturated PEG lipid monolayer. We have successfully observed vesicle formation during CG-MD simulations, starting from an aggregate of DMPC molecules. Depending on the aggregate size, the lipid assembly spontaneously transforms into a closed vesicle or a bicelle. None of the various intermediate structures between these extremes seem to be stable. An attempt to observe fusion of two vesicles through the application of an external adhesion force was not successful. The present CG force field also supports stable multi-lamellar DMPC vesicles.